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AG: PNM paid out $305m in legal fees
Attorneys Reginald Armour and Elena Araujo were among several legal practitioners who were paid a total of $54.4 million for legal work commissioned by the state, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday. He revealed the costs and updates on various legal issues engaging Government when he spoke in yesterday’s budget debate in the Senate.
He said the PNM Government had resisted making public the fees it had paid attorneys. Ramlogan, however, listed the fees paid by Central Bank to some attorneys, including Armour (for October 2007 to July 2012 - $17.7 million); Elena Araujo ($11.5 million); Ian Benjamin ($9.3 million); Lydia Mendonca and Co ($4.2 million); Pollonais, Blanc, De La Bastide and Jacelon ($3.4 million); Sherry-Ann Bachew Rudd ($2.4 million); Mair and Co ($1 million).
He said Canadian forensic auditor Bob Lindquist also collected legal fees from the Central Bank totalling $82.8 million between 2009 and 2011. He said the total expenditure for legal fees for that period paid by Central Bank was $305 million. Ramlogan said T&T’s “books will suffer a direct and forceful hit” if Government lost the arbitration matter brought in London by the builder of the offshore patrol boats which were ordered by the PNM Government.
The PP administration had rejected the OPVs and the matter has been in arbitration since last year. The AG said the OPV arbitration was a “massive one” and the impact of the possible loss of this or other arbitration cases Government has, could leave T&T’s economy “reeling” and catapult T&T downwards.”
Ramlogan said he had been micromanaging the OPV issue. He said Government also has an arbitration matter with the Hyatt Regency chain of hotels in New York. He said all those cases were part of what the PP inherited. Ramlogan said he inherited 25 legal bills from the PNM administration totalling $19.9 million for Privy Council agents.
Ramlogan said that included fees for a 2004 PNM case which he had contested as a private attorney and which was still unpaid. He had to settle it as AG under this Government, he added.
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