Former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC and former opposition senator Gerald Ramdeen’s corruption case will join the queue of cases awaiting trial in the High Court sooner than expected.
During a virtual hearing of the case before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle-Caddle yesterday, State prosecutors indicated that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had decided to file the indictments against both men directly in the High Court, as opposed to having the case go through the preliminary inquiry phase first.
The decision means that the case will immediately join the cause list of criminal cases awaiting trial in the High Court instead of doing so after a protracted preliminary inquiry, which could take several months to over a year to complete.
Addressing the court, prosecutor Mauricia Joseph indicated that the DPP’s Office intended to file the indictments by February 1. She also said all but two witness statements in the case had been sworn to.
Senior Counsel Pamela Elder, who is leading Ramlogan’s defence team, said her team was still awaiting the disclosure of certain documents which are required to prepare evidential objections in the case.
Joseph said the process of obtaining the necessary documents was still ongoing and they would be forwarded as soon as possible.
The case was adjourned to February 25.
The charges against Ramlogan and Ramdeen arose out of an investigation into almost $1 billion in legal fees paid to private legal practitioners who represented the state and state companies in legal proceedings during Ramlogan’s tenure between 2010 and 2015. The lawsuits included several over corruption which allegedly occurred under former prime minister Patrick Manning.
Ramlogan, Ramdeen and Jamaica-born British Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson were charged with conspiring together to receive, conceal and transfer criminal property, namely the rewards given to Ramlogan by Nelson for being appointed to represent the State in several cases; of conspiring together to corruptly give Ramlogan a percentage of the funds and of conspiring to make Ramlogan misbehave in public office by receiving the funds.
Shortly after being charged, Nelson entered into a plea agreement with the DPP’s Office in exchange for his testimony against Ramlogan and Ramdeen.
In March, High Court Judge Malcolm Holdip upheld the plea agreement and issued a total of $2.25 million in fines to Nelson for his role in the alleged conspiracy. Holdip fined Nelson $250,000 for allegedly conspiring with Ramlogan and Ramdeen to breach Section 3 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which criminalises corruption through bribery. The maximum penalty for the offence is a $500,000 fine and 10 years in prison. He was fined $2 million for allegedly conspiring with the duo to breach Section 45 of the Proceeds of Crime Act, which criminalises the concealment of the proceeds of crime. The maximum penalty for the offence is 25 years in prison and a $25 million fine.
Under Nelson’s plea agreement, the conspiracy to commit misbehaviour in public office charge was dropped. As part of his sentence, Holdip said that Nelson, who had been in protective custody during his visits to Trinidad and Tobago for the investigation and sentencing, was free to return to the United Kingdom while he cleared the fines under a 10-month court-approved payment plan. He was also placed on a $250,000 bond to keep the peace for three years.