Ish, Steve also funded PNM
Sunday, October 28 2012
ATTORNEY General Anand Ramlogan yesterday suggested UNC patrons Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson had also financed the PNM, as he dismissed the Opposition’s censure motion against him as “amusing and entertaining”.
Although he spoke for his full speaking time of 75 minutes, the Attorney General left many questions unanswered over Section 34.
At 1.20 am, Ramlogan opened his response to the motion by saying, “Mr Speaker, I have sat here since the commencement of this rather interesting but more so amusing and entertaining debate on this important motion, to listen with an open mind to what my colleagues have to say.”
“The two individuals were referred to as UNC financiers by my learned friend on the opposite side,” he said.
“Let me correct that first falsehood. Because long before that phrase was coined, the individuals that are the subject of that reference were also well-known financiers of the People’s National Movement. Well known financiers of the People’s National Movement!”
Ramlogan, 40, said he remembered “as a young fella”, a “famous front page story” with a photo of a poolside fund-raiser for the UNC featuring the two individuals who had previously been PNM financiers. He did not produce the document, name the individuals or give specific details.
“So let us put this in its proper political context,” Ramlogan said.
“We all know these two persons financed the PNM too. The PNM cannot forget their financial past.”
Ramlogan’s statement came five days after former PNM finance minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira said the Hindu Credit Union (HCU) had backed her 2007 election campaign at the Sir Colman Inquiry into the HCU.
Yesterday, well into another long debate (See page 14A), a fiery Ramlogan told Rowley, “I will defend, aggressively and relentlessly and vigorously any attack against my reputation as Attorney General and that is why those lawsuits against you will continue and this PP administration will continue to be served with integrity and competence by Anand Ramlogan as Attorney General.”
He said if he wanted to damage the prospect of Galbaransingh and Ferguson being extradited to the US in the courts, he could have done so.
“If I wanted to cooperate I could have adopted a certain stance,” he said.
Instead, he said, he objected to the men getting bail four times in court.
“If I was wanted to help these fellas, after I made the decision I would not have appealed the stay of extradition in December 2011.”
Ramlogan said James Lewis QC consulted – independently of him – Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard SC on the question of when the men would face trial locally. He read what he said was an e-mail from James Lewis QC.
The e-mail said, “Dear Attorney General, you have asked me to clarify certain matters. I can confirm that prior to giving my advice to you on the question of whether an appeal should be filed, in relation to the judgment in relation to the honourable Justice Boodoosingh, I had raised with Mr Roger Gaspard, the DPP, should be discontinued. And, if not, whether they could be heard within a short time frame. Mr Gaspard was reluctant to discontinue all domestic proceedings. His predecessor had discontinued proceedings in relation to contracts CP9 and CP11. But, he anticipated that a domestic trial could occur relatively quickly in the event that the defendants were not extradited to the United States of America, as the preliminary inquiry for Piarco I was completed and the preliminary inquiry to Piarco II was virtually complete. This was consistent with my instructions from you, which was the basis of my pragmatic advice on the passage of time, leading in favour of trial in Trinidad and Tobago.”
It was unclear why a lawyer for the Attorney General was seeking to ask the DPP to discontinue all charges, or why Lewis’ advice to the Attorney General was permeated by the Attorney General’s instructions.
Ramlogan said he did not extradite the men immediately upon signing the extradition order in 2010 because former PNM Attorney General, John Jeremie, had given a “written commitment of seven days notice” before any extradition in a letter. He said this letter was dated May, but did not give the day or year.
“I have the letter,” he assured.
Jeremie’s letter of May 5, 2005, makes no reference to a seven-day notice, instead using the phrase “a reasonable period of time”. Ramlogan did not say why he was bound by a pledge of seven day’s notice.
Ramlogan also denied ever giving an undertaking “behind the Speaker’s Chair” in the Senate in November 2011, in a conversation with PNM Senator Faris Al Rawi and Independent Senator Elton Prescott SC. Al Rawi had made this claim in an article published in Newsday.
“I knew for a fact that no such conversation took place. When I called Senator Prescott I asked him whether he had any recollection or record of any such conversation and he told me ‘no’ he did not. He told me so. He did not,” Ramlogan said.
Speaking in the new Parliament space at International Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain, the Attorney General said he did not “clear the air” because he was of the view that “there is one sacred place in this Parliament consistent with Westminster tradition that you do not breach the sanctity of and that is behind the Speaker’s Chair”.
As he spoke, Ramlogan was assisted by Sports Minister Anil Roberts, who brought Ramlogan one of the small bottles of water used in the Parliament chamber.
Minister of Legal Affairs Prakash Ramadhar, who did not speak in the debate, sat next to Ramlogan and at one stage opened the bottled water and poured it into a glass for a relieved Ramlogan, who four times wiped his face with his handkerchief.