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Hart to return for $500m lawsuit
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday warned that former executive chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) Calder Hart will be hunted down and arrested if he fails to return to T&T for criminal and civil suits in which he is a key figure. The AG said Hart has given a commitment to testify in court. He said “by this week or next week” Hart’s matter will come up for “case management with directions to be given for a trial.”
Hart has been living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, since he resigned from Udecott and left the country in 2010. Ramlogan said one claim by the State is for $500 million for the mismanagement of the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium at Tarouba. Civil proceedings started after the Uff Commission of Enquiry report, which called for the police to probe Hart for allegedly misspending billions of dollars in Udecott projects across the country.
Defendants in the case include Hart, former Udecott deputy chairman Krishna Bahadoorsingh, former financial manager Ricardo O’Brien and former corporate secretary Neelanda Rampaul. “Mr Hart has in fact been located and has been communicating through his lawyers, and at the appropriate time, will have to come to testify and be cross-examined in court,” Ramlogan said.
The AG said on every occasion that the matter has come up before Justice Andre des Vignes, Hart’s attorneys have communicated with the judge and State attorneys. He is being represented in the matter by Dr Lloyd Barnett QC of Jamaica. Ramlogan said Hart has indicated through his legal team that “he is available and will not evade the jurisdiction of court and will submit himself for cross-examination when the trial begins”.
He said the decision on how soon the matter will start lies in the hands of the judge who has to set a trial date.
“But I made a plea to the judiciary to treat these matters with the urgency they deserve because they involve serious allegations of misuse and corruption of public funds,” Ramlogan said. “My only worry is that the judicial process is very slow. This matter should be given priority.”
Ramlogan said when the trial starts, should Hart evade the jurisdiction of the court, “we will invoke the procedures to compel him to present himself before the court, including asking for his arrest if necessary, but that is academic because thus far he has been communicating through his legal team.”
When the matter comes up on the next occasion, Ramlogan said, the judge will give directions for filing of witness statements, following which he will give a date for trial. Hart will then have to appear in court to testify and be cross-examined. The AG said he is confident of the State’s chances of success in this matter.