You are here
Lalla: Colman can fine, jail ex-Clico officials for not heeding commission summons
There is a looming power showdown between commission chairman Sir Anthony Colman and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard over whether Lawrence Duprey and Andre Monteil will appear before the Clico/HCU Commission of Enquiry (COE). Former CL Financial chairman Duprey and former group financial director Monteil were summoned by Colman on Thursday to give evidence.
This comes after Duprey and Monteil said they would not testify at the enquiry because of an ongoing police investigation into Clico. In December last year British Queen’s Counsel Edward Jenkins, on behalf of the DPP, sought to stop the enquiry going on in public in light of the on-going criminal investigation.
Attorney and former Police Service Commission chairman Kenneth Lalla, now a consultant with his law firm KR Lalla & Company, says as far as he can recall, this apparent clash between a commission of enquiry and the DPP is a first. Duprey and Monteil’s reason for not attending—the on-going police investigation—has to be tested, Lalla said. “Whether the DPP can override the request of the commission has never been tested before.
I can’t recall any previous procedure involving such a situation. It’s the first time. “It’s a question of who will override who, the DPP or the COE. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds,” Lalla said. Commenting on the chances of Duprey and Monteil turning up to testify, Lalla said it would seem the COE had powers, similar to the High Court to summon people to appear before it.
“The commission has been appointed to conduct an enquiry into the running of Clico and would like to have all the evidence before it. “Failure to appear will have its consequences. It would be contempt, and the consequences will clearly be a penalty of one form or another.” Lalla believes the penalty could include imprisonment. Leader of the 1990 insurrection Yasin Abu Bakr has refused to heed a summons demanding he appear at an on-going commission of enquiry into this event.
Bakr has said on-going court matters could be prejudiced if he gave evidence in the enquiry. That commission has written to Gaspard asking him to take whatever action against Bakr he deems necessary. Court officials say if the DPP decides to charge Bakr he would be liable to a fine of $2,000. Lalla said, however, the judge has the power to impose whatever penalty he sees fit.
“It’s entirely within his jurisdiction to determine the penalty,” he said. He also believes Duprey and Monteil will seek legal advice and act accordingly. Contacted for a response, Gaspard said, “This particular matter is being dealt with in a certain way,” and he was not at liberty to comment at this stage. Deputy Police Commissioner Mervyn Richardson said the Clico investigation is ongoing and he could not comment.
“You don’t expect me to comment? It’s a highly sensitive matter. The commission of enquiry is going on right now and commenting might be injurious to it,” he said. The T&T Guardian called Monteil’s company, Stone Street Capital in Port-of-Spain, around 2 pm and asked to speak to him. An employee said he was not in the office. Messages were posted via Facebook to Duprey, who reportedly lives in Florida, US, but he has not responded.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.