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Ish, Steve go home
For the first time in almost ten months, fraud accused businessmen Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh have tasted freedom. Shortly before midday yesterday, the men emerged from the southern exit of the Maximum Security Prison at Golden Grove, Arouca. With a barrage of photographers and cameramen looking on, they were quickly whisked away in a waiting black SUV. Galbaransingh, donning his customary sunglasses, and with his hair in full grey, was greeted by his English lawyer, Andrew Mitchell, QC. Ferguson followed close behind, greeted by unknown associates.
They posted $2 million bail set the previous day by Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh, sitting in the Port-of-Spain High Court.
It was an application for bail which went uncontested by the State, arising out of a substantive judicial review hearing before the judge. Ferguson and Galbaransingh, who are wanted in the United States on a total of 95 fraud charges, last tasted freedom on June 15, 2010, when they were arrested by Interpol detectives at Pt Lisas. Late Thursday, lawyers representing the former UNC financiers, including Fyard Hosein, SC, and Rajiv Persad, hurried to the prison in an attempt to post bail. But an error in processing the warrants for the men’s release could not be corrected at such a late hour. A family friend and a relative reportedly stood as sureties for the bail. Legal sources said the men immediately went to their respective families.
They are expected to report to the Four Roads Police Station next Monday and Thursday, as part of the bail conditions set by Boodoosingh. They are required to surrender their travel documents to the State, and are scheduled to return before Boodoosingh on May 10. Ferguson, former Maritime General CEO, and Galbaransingh, chairman of Northern Construction Ltd Group of Companies, are wanted in the US to answer 95 fraud charges arising from the $1.6 billion Piarco Airport terminal project.
How events unfolded
May 4, 2006—A Florida grand jury returned an indictment against Galbaransingh, Ferguson and six others in relation to corrupt practices concerning Construction Packages 9 and 13 for the construction of the Piarco Airport terminal building.
July 20, 2006—Galbaransingh and Ferguson were served with provisional warrants. Both men appeared before then Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicholls and were each granted $1 million bail.
December 13, 2007—Both applicants lost challenges at the Court of Appeal where they had sought to review the decision of then attorney general John Jeremie, who signed the authority to proceed with the extradition on July 20, 2006.
July 14, 2008—Both applicants were committed to be extradited to the US, by Mc Nicholls. They were later granted bail at the High Court by Justice Ian Brook in the sum of $1 million each.
July 24, 2008—They filed habeas corpus proceedings.
May 6, 2009—Habeas corpus application dismissed at the High Court.
May 3, 2010—Court of Appeal, by a 2-1 majority, ruled that Ferguson and Galbaransingh be extradited.
Justice Rajendra Narine dissented in a 62-page judgment.
June 7, 2010—An appeal of the Court of Appeal’s decision was dismissed by the Judicial Committee of the London Privy Council.
June 15, 2010—Galbaransingh and Ferguson were arrested at Pt Lisas.
June 16, 2010—An application for bail was dismissed by Justice Vasheist Kokaram.
July 29, 2010—Kokaram dismissed a constitution motion brought by the incarcerated businessmen, challenging the constitutionality of the extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act 1985.
October 9, 2010—Attorney General Anand Ramlogan signed off on the men’s extradition warrants.
October 15, 2010—After a late night sitting, Justice Joan Charles dismissed an application to judicially review Ramlogan’s decision.
December 17, 2010—Court of Appeal reversed Charles’ ruling and remitted the matter for determination before a High Court judge. An appeal to Kokaram’s ruling in the constitutional motion was dismissed.