AG won’t appeal Ish, Steve case
By Jada Loutoo Tuesday, December 20 2011
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ATTORNEY GENERAL (AG) Anand Ramlogan will not pursue an appeal in the extradition of former UNC financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
In a statement yesterday, Ramlogan said he came to the view that “the ends of justice” will be served by foregoing the appeal, and allowing the criminal prosecution currently before the local courts to proceed.
Ramlogan has been openly criticised in relation to the extradition case.
Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh, on November 7, quashed the AG’s October 9, 2010, decision to sign the extradition warrants against the two men who are wanted in the United States on bid- rigging charges.
Boodoosingh, in his ruling on the judicial review application sought by the two, said the signing of the extradition warrant was “unjust and oppressive.”
Ramlogan, however, noted his decision not to appeal now paves the way for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to take the necessary steps to law indictments against the two businessmen in respect of the charges against them in relation to the Piarco expansion project, as they have been committed to stand trial in the Assizes.
“Further, it is open to the DPP to consider again, in an independent exercise of his discretion whether to reinstate charges withdrawn in respect of conduct relating to CP 9 and CP 13 packages of the Airport Construction Project,” he said in his statement. Contacted yesterday, DPP Roger Gaspard said he did not wish to comment on the matter.
In his statement, which was given on the date of the expiration of the time stipulated by the Civil Proceedings Rules to file an appeal, Ramlogan said his decision “would be in the interest of all concerned.”
Ferguson alone is wanted on an 82-count indictment, including charges of laundering US$3,255,345 ($20,508,673) between the period November 24, 2000 and March 28, 2002. Galbaransingh is wanted on a 13-count indictment, including charges of laundering US$1million (TT$6.3 million) between the period June 19, 2001 and December 10, 2001. They are charged in accordance with Sections 44, 45 and 46 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2000. A United States grand jury returned the indictment against the two on November 29, 2005.
Charges against Galbaransingh and Ferguson in the local courts were discontinued, in favour of prosecution in the American courts.
Ramlogan said he examined the judge’s decision and sought advice from Queen’s Counsel James Lewis.
Lewis noted that while the reasoning of the judge contained errors on the issue of the appropriate forum for trying the two and the chances of success of an appeal was high, the “pragmatic points” outweighed the merits of a successful appeal.
“The present extradition proceedings have five and a half years. The claimants are well funded and determined to assert every possible right of appeal and have demonstrated their determination to do so at every appeal,” Lewis advised, as he went on to point out the possible time line for the matter if appealed was by both sides as the case progressed.
He noted the case was likely to continue a further six years.
He said a trial could not proceed in the US, until extradition proceedings ran its course, adding that almost a decade had passed since the commission of the alleged offices. He said any further delay must be minimised. He also noted that the fading memories of witnesses must be minimised, while he spoke of the amount of money spent to date without a trial.
Lewis also noted that there was the possibility of reinstating the discontinued charges and the possibility of having “one global trial with all the defendants and charges.”
In his statement, Ramlogan said he chose Lewis’ advice after meeting with US Attorney General Eric Holder, adding that the British Queen’s Counsel was recognised and respected by the US.
Ramlogan said he made the decision to sign the extradition warrants “in good faith,” pointing out that the procedure began before he took office.
In coming to his decision not to pursue an appeal, Ramlogan said he considered the ruling of Justice Boodoosingh and that of the Court of Appeal, which granted Galbaransingh and Ferguson leave to petition the court to challenge the AG’s decision.
Ramlogan also noted that while the State was ordered to pay costs in relation to the latest lawsuit filed by the former UNC financiers, he said this will be dealt with when the parties return to court to make submissions on the issue.
Ramlogan also said he has instructed his attorney to serve a pre-action protocol letter on Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley for defamation in relation to comments made on the issue of the extradition.