Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has given businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson seven days to make representations as to why they should not be extradited to the United States to face a total of 95 charges relating to the construction of the Piarco Airport Terminal building. After the refusal of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council this week to grant leave for them to appeal, the Attorney General wrote to their attorneys, giving Ferguson and Galbaransingh the opportunity to make representation in accordance with Section 16 of the Extradition Act.
After the local Court of Appeal dismissed the extradition appeal on May 3, Ferguson and Galbaransingh rushed to the Privy Council, saying they had the right of appeal to the Law Lords. They were asked to make their submissions in writing, and if need be, the Privy Council would request oral submissions. But the Law Lords–Brown, Mance and Collins–did not want oral submissions and refused the application for leave this week. But before that, lawyers for the two men rushed off a letter dated May 27 to Ramlogan, seeking his intervention in the matter. Ramlogan had been sworn in the day before. In a letter dated June 9, Ramlogan responded to the two men: "Your application for leave to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is extant. We intend to allow the proceedings before the Judicial Committee to take their course. If the appeal is dismissed, the Honourable Attorney General will then proceed to carry out his statutory duty under Section 16 of the Extradition Act as amended."
In this regard, Ramlogan said he would maintain the position adopted by former Attorney General John Jeremie and allow Ferguson and Galbaransingh a reasonable time to consider and take any appropriate measures in respect of a decision under Section 16, if it were adverse to them.
The AG said he would also provide an opportunity for the wanted men to make the necessary representations in keeping with the prior legal position adopted by Jeremie. In a follow-up letter dated June 10, Ramlogan pointed out that the Privy Council had denied leave to Ferguson and Galbaransingh. "In keeping with the stated position in previous correspondence, the Honourable Attorney General is proceeding along the legal basis adopted by his predecessor and now invites your clients to make representations within seven days," the AG said. Ramlogan said the request for representations was necessitated by natural justice principles. After Ramlogan receives the representation, he would then make a ruling as to whether Ferguson and Galbaransingh should be extradited to Florida. Both Ferguson and Galbaransingh have been on $1 million bail since their arrest in 2006. In an unprecedented move, Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls granted bail in an extradition case, when in all other similar cases, the wanted people were all kept in prison.
On May 4, 2006, a grand jury in Florida, returned an indictment against Galbaransingh, Ferguson and six others in relation to corrupt practices concerning two packages for the construction of the airport terminal building. Months later, six Americans pleaded guilty before Judge Paul Huck in the Miami Federal Court, and were sentenced to terms between six months and six years. The case against Galbaransingh and Ferguson is still pending. Ferguson and Galbaransingh contend that they have already endured seven years of domestic criminal proceedings in respect of the same allegations made in the United States. They submit that they have endured hundreds of days of court hearings and substantial legal costs, stress, anxiety and loss of reputation.
Battle far from over
In a press release issued yesterday, Galbaransingh and Ferguson stated that their extradition battle was far from over. The release stated: "In relation to the extradition proceedings that are currently ongoing with regards to Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh, the Attorney General has now written to the two persons inviting them through their attorneys to make representations as to why it would be unjust and oppressive or unconstitutional to take further steps in their extradition. "In his letter to Ferguson and Galbaransingh dated June 10, 2010, the Honourable Attorney General informed them that this decision is proceeding along the legal basis adopted by his predecessor, John Jeremie, and that the request from the Attorney General for these representations is necessitated by the principles of natural justice," the release said. "If the Attorney General's decision is unfavourable to Ferguson and/or Galbaransingh, the Appeal Court has already ruled that they must be given a reasonable time to judicially review the Attorney General's decision in the High Court and at that stage they will have the right to go all the way to the Privy Council."