Final Judgement in Miami Case

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

THE Piarco International Airport corruption case in which Trinidad and Tobago was awarded almost $1 billion was  concluded on Monday “in final form” in a Miami court.

This was announced by former attorney general and current Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi at a virtual press conferecnc on Monday.

Describing  it as matter which was “hard-fought” by T&T, he said, “I am very pleased to inform that today Judge Diaz who sat in the 11th District Court in Miami Dade County delivered final judgement to Trinidad and Tobago.”

Al-Rawi said, “The final judgement is the following sum: US$131, 318, 847. That represents near $1 billion T&T dollars.”

The former attorney general said he did not speak previously on the matter as it was before the court.

He reminded the public of the history of the decades old case which also involved former prime minister Basdeo Panday and businessman Ishwar Galbaransingh.

Al-Rawi said that between 2010 to 2015 – when the People’s Partnership was in Government, there was no activity in the matter and the matter ran the risk of being thrown out of court.

However, when the administration changed in 2015, and the Office of the Attorney General resuscitated the litigation and by 2017 was back on track with him as AG with him being personally being involved for eight years in his role as AG.

The trial went on all through the month of March with him as a witness for the State, along with other witnesses for both State and the remaining three defendants.

Al-Rawi said, “The evidence of guilt and the actual confessions as to how the conspiracy unfolded came from the witnesses themselves.”

He also said that Trinidad and Tobago has gotten a positive return for all their monies spent on legal fees over the 20 year period.

“The monies expended over 20 years of litigation in this matter have now been justified at least in terms of a product which is formed and crystalised in judgement,” Al –Rawi said.

Nothing newsworthy says Opposition Leader 

However, in an immediate response, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said Al-Rawi said nothing that was “newsworthy.” 

In a statement she said, “Faris’s antics over the ‘news’ about the Piarco civil corruption cases in the US courts would be amusing if it disclosed anything new, noteworthy or even news worthy. Al-Rawi is known for his outrageous lies in this matter.”

Persad-Bissessar said Al-Rawi should be addressing his failures in other matters such as the civil corruption case against former executive chairman of Petrotrin  Malcolm Jones for $1.2 billion and the $35 million claim against the former PNM appointed board of E-Teck over the failed bamboo investment deal. 

“Had the $1.2 billion loss suffered by Petrotrin as a result of the failed gas to liquids project where the plan has to be eventually sold as scrap iron is what crippled Petrotrin and led to its eventual closure. Had Al-Rawi pursued that claim, there is no doubt that the public would have benefitted from a billion-dollar judgment and Petrotrin would not be closed today with thousands on the breadline,” she said.

He should also be speaking about his government’s failure to appeal the AV drilling matter by going against the advice of their own senior counsel which cost taxpayers over $100,000 million Persad-Bissessar said.

She also noted, “It is interesting that Al-Rawi is desperately trying to distract attention from the judgment of the Privy Council which is due to be delivered on Thursday morning. We cannot help but wonder whether Al-Rawi’s shenanigans are an attempt to create a diversion to distract people’s attention away from this historic judgment.”

On Thursday, the Privy Council is expected to deliver their judgement on a matter filed by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan on behalf of Ravi Balgobin Maharaj, challenging the extension of local government officials tenure.


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