If businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson are acquitted by the court, they cannot be tried again for the same offence, Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal said yesterday. But the November 7, 2011 judgment of Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh in their extradition matter still stands, she pointed out, as the inquiry into alleged corruption into the Piarco Airport project continues to be tried in the local court. The businessmen had challenged the decision to extradite them to the US to face fraud charges. Boodoosingh ruled that they should not be extradited, and the State decided not move to appeal. He ruled also that the proper forum for the men to face trial was Trinidad and Tobago and not the United States. “The decision of Boodoosingh still stands in the local court. There has not been any change regarding that, and therefore the men must be tried by the local court,” Seetahal said.
She said if the court acquitted Galbaransingh and Ferguson, that would be the end of the matter, as it would be double jeopardy to have them tried twice for the same offence. Galbaransingh and Ferguson reappeared in court last Friday, mere hours after the decision to repeal Section 34 of the Administration of Justice Indictable Proceedings Act was ratified in the Senate. The men petitioned the Supreme Court to have a not-guilty verdict returned in the fraud case against them in accordance with Section 34 of the act, after its proclamation on August 31. Public affairs officer of the US Embassy Alexander McLaren said yesterday the US remained concerned that the case involving Galbaransingh and Ferguson could be dropped. He noted that the US continues to seek their extradition, since despite the ruling last year by the High Court, Galbaransingh and Ferguson remained under indictment in the US. “Mr Galbaransingh and Mr 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,” McLaren said.
PNM Senator and attorney Faris Al-Rawi yesterday said the US Government would always have the option to apply again for them to be extradited. Al-Rawi said, “It will always be open to the US Government to present a fresh request for extradition to the Attorney General for his consideration in respect to any cases that the US Government may be interested in.” Another senior counsel said the charges that would apply to T&T may not necessarily be those Galbaransingh and Ferguson may be facing in the US and therefore the option of extradition is still very much on the cards. “They could be in Barbados for a weekend and the US Government could move in to have them extradited, because the charges in the US may be very different to that of Trinidad and Tobago. “Once there is an extradition treaty existing in a country, the US Government could make an application for the men to be extradited.”
Ferguson and Galbaransingh 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 Piarco International Airport.