Last update: 18-Dec-2013 7:04 am
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Court dates soon for Hart and Pena—AG
Court dates have been set for hearing of several public interest cases, including those against former executive chairman of then Urban Development Corporation (Udecott) Calder Hart, Juliana Pena, the so-called spiritual adviser to former prime minister Patrick Manning and energy expert Ken Julien. This was revealed by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan during his contribution to yesterday’s Senate debate on the 2013-2014 budget.
The AG gave a status report on several of the major matters before the courts. He said the matter against Hart, deputy chairman Krishna Bahadursingh and others was close to a trial date being set for hearing. In another matter, in which the State was seeking to recover $1.2 billion from former Petrotrin president Malcolm Jones as a result of the mismanagement of the failed gas-to-liquids plant, Ramlogan said: “A defence has been ordered by the judge to be filed by October 11, 2013.”
The matter involving Pena and her role in the construction of a church at the Heights of Gunapo, Arima, was set for February 11 and 12 next year, he said. Also coming up for hearing was the matter against Evolving Technologies (eTecK) where the State was seeking to recover $30 million against the company’s former board, led by Professor Ken Julien, he said. That matter is related to the failed investment in China-based company, Bamboo Networks Limited (BNL) in 2005.
Ramlogan said the court was to make “a most significant and important preliminary point in that matter on October 11.” According to Ramlogan, that ruling would affect all the other public interest matters being pursued by the State against the former public officials. He said the issue related to the limitation matter. The minister said there was a four-year limitation period for a citizen to take legal action in such matters.
He said the life of a government was five years. He said if a government was to serve two consecutive terms “then you are outside the limitation period to bring any action against the wrongdoers.” He added: “This case is a test case because the State is arguing that the four-year period cannot be taken in isolation but it must be judged by whether the wrongdoers were in charge of the company and whether it was possible to discover the wrongdoing.
“That judgment is going to be a very historic judgment and will have an impact on all the other claims that have been filed because a similar point is being raised.” The trial date for that matter is February 11-12 next year. He said citizens must have the right to sue even if the government was removed from office. On the patent matter against professor Brian Copeland, the minister said the determination of the intellectual property rights to the percussive harmonic instrument was at an advanced stage.
Ramlogan said the State funded the research for project in the amount of $35 million and either the Government or the University of the West Indies should own the patent rights. “It cannot be that taxpayers financed it and one man owns it to profit financially,” Ramlogan said. Additionally, he said, five legal matters relating to the Clico bailout matter were to be determined shortly. And the constitutional challenge to the infamous Section 34 case was also set for determination shortly, he added.
“We have pressed the court for an urgent hearing of the appeal and that appeal is going to take place on October 21,” the minister said. Ramlogan said he hoped for an expeditious ruling in the Section 34 matter. Ramlogan denied claims that the Section 34 legislation was initially proclaimed to benefit two former financiers of the party. The AG said nationals were still being extradited to the United States despite the claims to the contrary by others.
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