|US: We want Ish, Steve |
Wednesday, September 12 2012
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Billion-dollar airport: Ishwar Galbaransingh, Steve Ferguson are wanted in the United States on fraud charges stemming from the billion-dollar Piarco ...
BUSINESSMEN Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh may escape prosecution in the local courts for corruption and fraud, but they will not escape the long arm of the law in the United States.
A statement issued by the US Embassy in Port-of-Spain yesterday, indicated the American Government continues to seek the extradition of the two men despite the ruling last year by the High Court, which effectively put a halt to the two facing criminal prosecution in a US Federal Court.
“The United States continues to seek their extradition despite the ruling last year by the Trinidad and Tobago High Court. They remain under indictment in the United States,” the brief statement said. The Embassy also said it was concerned by reports that the local fraud cases against the two men may be dropped.
The two were first indicted in 2005 in a Miami Federal Court on numerous fraud and money laundering charges stemming from alleged bid rigging between 1996 and 2005 on contracts for the $1.6 billion Piarco International Airport expansion project.
Galbaransingh and Ferguson are accused of committing fraud involving millions of dollars.
“It would be highly disappointing if, after years of investigation, their case was not brought to trial,” the Embassy’s statement said.
On December 22, last year, two days after Attorney General Anand Ramlogan indicated he will not pursue an appeal in the extradition of the former UNC financiers, the US Government went on record to say it was “disappointed” with the outcome of the extradition proceedings.
In defending his decision, Ramlogan said an appeal would have further prolonged the “already unsatisfactory pre-trial delay” in the matter.
“The longest rope must have an end and there is a real risk that the defendants could altogether escape the prospect of a criminal trial if an appeal is pursued by the State,” Ramlogan noted.
Although the US Embassy insisted that notwithstanding local proceedings would not affect the men’s legal status in the US, Opposition Leader Rowley suggested differently yesterday.
“If the application is successful, the accused is entitled to a verdict of not guilty and therefore cannot be tried again, even in a foreign court,” he argued during a press conference at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Port-of-Spain.
“The accused could claim double jeopardy and the extradition would be refused. As a result all of the persons facing charges on the Piarco scandal would go free both here and the United States.”