Attorney General Reginald Armour’s latest statement on his disqualification from a Miami court in relation to a Piarco International Airport fraud matter has raised more questions than it has answered, according to Opposition MP Dinesh Rambally.
Rambally has also expressed deep concern about Armour’s memory after the AG explained that he detailed his involvement in the Piarco Airport case based on his “best recollection.”
“Mr Reginald Armour, SC, has failed his Office, the Government and people. His conduct as a lawyer, and more so as an Attorney General, warrants admonition and rebuke,” Rambally said after Armour broke his silence on Monday via a media release, after his initial response to concerns.
Rambally added: “The Law Association’s continued silence would be perplexing and reprehensible in light of (his) second release.”
Armour sought to address concerns revolving around his involvement in the Miami civil case on matters stemming from the Piarco International Airport probe.
The Miami courts in May disqualified him from that.
Armour previously represented Brian Kuei Tung in criminal proceedings on the Piarco matter but stated on affidavit that he had a junior role when, in fact, he had a greater involvement. The AG explained earlier this week that at the time, he was recalling events some 14 years ago and at the time of signing the affidavit, he was on vacation in Europe.
Government has appealed the disqualification.
Rambally said Armour’s latest statement comes as pressure mounts for him to resign.
“He considers the concerns emanating from the public domain to be plainly legitimate, now, and not before, as he was taking shelter in the sub judice principle,” he said.
“Now that he’s spoken, trying to explain his glaring misconduct in a foreign court, his second release has raised more eyebrows and even more questions than it has answered.”
He added that Armour’s most recent explanation “appears to be a clever attempt to put in the public domain what he may have wanted to have put on the court record” regarding clarification on the issue.
“He makes reference to recusing himself from acting on T&T’s behalf. But his first media statement makes clear he was ‘walled off’ from certain aspects of the case, while he kept control of others. One would hardly call that recusal,” Rambally said.
“He also stated his prior involvement in Kuei Tung’s defence was ‘immaterial’ to the extent he recused himself from the matter. Well, the US judge didn’t think so in the least.
“Neither do we in T&T. It goes to the heart of a ‘conflict of interest’—the basis of the other party’s successful application for disqualification.”
Rambally added that Armour signed an affidavit containing a “brief” description of his involvement in Kuei Tung’s defence. He said maybe Armour didn’t understand it was the description that was meant to be brief, not that his involvement needed to be crafted as such.
“In any event, for a person who’s qualified to be the Attorney General, it is difficult to imagine he could not appreciate the full implication of such an affidavit. In an attempt to emphatically minimise his involvement in Kuei Tung’s defence, he goes on to take refuge in his lapse of memory.”
Rambally said it was infantile, “to suggest that memory depends on having your papers with you at all times, or on being in a particular location, as such memory is expected to dim with geographical distance.”
“More concerning, however, is the AG’s apparent struggle with his ability to remember and retain information,” Rambally added.
He also questioned:
Does the AG remember cross-examining persons in the matter?
“If no, we should be worried. If yes, we should be concerned. Can Armour truly expect to justify how he delegated the giving of instructions to the former AG, in the circumstances as described by him?
“The AG insinuated that whilst on holiday, he couldn’t find a Notary Public, so he was only able to sign and email the document with dispatch. It is not clear whether he meant to say that because of the pressure of time, and the urgency of the situation, his memory failed, and he rendered an inaccurate affidavit,” Rambally said.
He also noted that it might have made sense for Armour to apply for an extension of time, that is unless, as Rambally put it, the AG didn’t recall he could have exercised such an option.
“It still doesn’t excuse him from the stunning misrepresentation of the truth on behalf of the unwitting population,” the UNC MP added.