T&T Wins US$100M in Piarco Corruption Case in Miami Court

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By Prior Beharry

THE State of Trinidad and Tobago has won more than US$100 million in a Miami court arising out of a corruption case in the constriction of the Piarco International Airport about two decades ago.

This was the claim of former attorney general and Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi in a release on Wednesday.

He was the corporate representative of T&T in the case in the case in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Dade County in Miami after current Attorney General Reginald Armour was disqualified from appearing in the case since he had represented one of the accused as a defence attorney years ago.


In the release, Al-Rawi said, “The net effect of the verdict is that the State is the beneficiary of the trebling of damages automatically and is also entitled to prejudgment interest of at least US$25 million. Final judgment will be well in excess of US$100 million.”

He said that a jury of six residents of Miami-Dade County found businessman Steve Ferguson liable for multiple claims arising from fraud perpetrated in connection with the redevelopment of the Piarco International Airport in Port of Spain in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Al-Rawi said the court had earlier found that former finance minister Brian Kuei Tung and Raul Gutierrez Jr the former principal of Calmaquip Engineering Corporation – which provided specialised equipment at the airport – were also liable. Calmaquip was formerly headquartered in Miami.


He said, “The jury concluded that all three Defendants were liable for US$32,385,988 in damages suffered by the Republic of T&T and granted the RICO claims made by the State which trebled damages.”

Al Rawi said the state had filed its initial complaint in May 2004.

By the time it filed its Fifth Amended Complaint in April 2007, the case included a total of 56 defendants, including 11 individuals, 12 corporate entities, and 33 in rem defendants (comprised of bank accounts and tangible assets).


The State alleged that defendants Ferguson, Kuei Tung, and Gutierrez had conspired with others to corrupt the bidding process on two construction packages, as well as the maintenance contract for the Piarco International Airport, he said.

Al-Rawi said, “In April 2016, the Court granted summary judgment against Mr Gutierrez, concluding he was liable for fraud and violations of Florida’s Racketeering and Influenced Corrupt Organizations statute, commonly known as RICO.

“Mr Gutierrez pled guilty in 2006 to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and transportation of stolen property in violation of U.S. federal law related to his involvement in the Piarco project.

“In October 2019, the Court defaulted Mr Kuei Tung for refusing to attend his deposition to answer questions about the case.

“The default resulted in liability against Mr Kuei Tung for the same claims. In addition, the Court also determined that Mr Kuei Tung was liable for conspiracy to commit fraud. 6.

“On March 6, Judge Diaz commenced a four-week jury trial to determine liability against Mr Ferguson, and damages for the other Defendants.

“After two days of jury selection, opening statements were delivered by each party on Wednesday, March

“The State, represented by its US Counsel, White & Case LLP, put on ten full days of evidence against the Defendants before resting its case. Defendants followed with four days of their own evidence. “

“At the trial’s conclusion, the jury found by clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Ferguson had violated Florida’s RICO statutes, and was also liable for fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. The jury further found that the Defendants caused over US$32 million in damages to the Republic.”


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