“I will say only this - I do not intend to give anyone another Section 34 opportunity to derail the trials that are taking place in Miami for another ten years.”
That’s how Attorney General Reginald Armour justified his refusal to comment any further on questions surrounding his disqualification from legal proceedings in the Piarco Airport fraud case in a Miami court, despite numerous attempts by journalists yesterday to have him explain further.
Speaking at a media conference he called to address issues with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Legislation, which he had raised in the Senate earlier in the day, Armour still entertained questions about the case.
Despite this, he refused to add any substantial further commentary on the issue, simply referring to his previous statements and the one most recently published this week (June 20).
“I don’t intend to make any comments beyond what I said in the statement that was published on Monday of this week and I am not going to change my mind on that,” he said.
His response came as he refused to address a question from a reporter seeking details on the extent of his efforts to correct the record after realising he misrepresented his role in former client Brian Kuei Tung’s fraud case in an the affidavit to the Miami court.
Asked to comment on calls from the Opposition and members of the Law Association for him to step down from his position as a result of the fiasco, Armour said: “I have nothing further to say beyond what I have said in my statement that was published on Monday.”
Asked by Guardian Media why he was refusing to address the issues further, he said: “Because I’m not.”
He offered a further explanation when pressed about if he believed this response was sufficient for members of the legal fraternity and the public.
“I have already pronounced on the issue,” Armour said.
“I have said as much as I am prepared to say. I have said and I am not going to repeat beyond those things that are already stated by me, that there are impending judicial proceedings. I do not intend, beyond what I have said in very restricted terms, to make any comment on anything that has the potential to impact on the procedures that are taking place in Miami.”
This is where he expressed his caution at not creating another Section 34 fiasco with the ongoing case, further delaying justice.
Over the past few weeks, Armour has been subject of heavy criticism from attorneys and the Opposition. Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has made repeated calls for Armour to step down as Attorney General or be fired, while some 40 members of the Law Association of T&T (LATT) have signed a petition to trigger a motion of no-confidence against Armour to be brought before the association.
It all stems from Armour’s disqualification from representing Trinidad and Tobago in a Piarco International Airport civil suit in a Miami court. The matter is directly tied to the Piarco Airport fraud case, with the same defendants.
However, an issue arose when Armour was appointed as Attorney General to replace Faris Al-Rawi in March, after his ex-client, former finance minister Kuei Tung, raised a challenge to him representing the State in the matter. Armour represented Kuei Tung and his then-girlfriend Renee Pierre in the capacity of a defence attorney in his private practice between 2003 and 2008.
But when he took over as AG, Armour became the State’s attorney in all civil matters. Once his appointment was announced, Kuei Tung filed a petition to disqualify Armour and the US law firm, Sequor Law, which had been representing T&T and to dismiss the case against him.
A Miami court judge agreed with two of the three petitions Kuei Tung filed. It was later reported that the judge said Armour misrepresented his role in Kuei Tung’s defence when he swore to an affidavit stating he only played a ‘junior’ role in the preliminary enquiry, which was limited to research and note-taking.
In his most recent statement on this, Armour said he wrote the affidavit from his memory of events that transpired 14 years ago. He added that at the time, he was on vacation and did not have any documents with him, especially as he had disposed of them “a long time ago.” He said he was never given the chance to rectify the error when he recalled his involvement to be of a greater extent, despite staying in his hotel room with his phone the day the disqualification application was due to be heard by the Miami judge.