23 Sept 2010

Exposing the fatted sow

A whopping $213,875,000 that had been paid out by the Ministry of the Attorney General during the past nine years, (new) Attorney General Anand Ramlogan revealed in the Senate yesterday.

He alleged that a former minister’s husband and brother-in-law and firms with “distinct, identifiable political connections, given the personalities that served as partners in those firms” were given lucrative work during the PNM’s tenure in office.

“But, I can tell you that Senator Fitzgerald Hinds and Senator Faris al-Rawi, they were among those ten. They too, benefitted. One was on the panel at First Citizens Bank getting work. When you go to mortgage your house, you had to pay for the lawyer’s signature.”

“Ten people alone got $84 million in legal fees,” he repeated.

Ramlogan’s shocking disclosures came as he reiterated his Government’s thrust to stamp out corruption, specifically, white collar crime, during its term in office.

He, however, likened the PNM to a “fat sow with piglets rushing in from every direction to feed and nurse.”

Ramlogan made it clear the sum of $213, 875,000 which had been paid in legal fees by his ministry for the period 2001 to 2010 did not include the State sector.

“Madam Vice-President (Lyndira Oudit), it is almost as though litigation is artificially created, manufactured and generated to sustain certain individuals and senior members of the inner Bar are bypassed in favour of a chosen few. “Madam Vice-President, they (attorneys) continued to magically appear, time and again, whatever the nature, complexity or subject matter. It is almost as if the rest of the legal profession suffered from some unidentified collective intellectual deficiency that they alone knew about.”

Regarding sums paid in legal fees in the State sector, Ramlogan said, “Madam Vice-President, I thought people will have a heart at some stage in the game. But when I turned to UDeCOTT I saw that they spent $110 million in legal fees and $72 million out of that $110 million went to one firm.

“In other words, one firm got 65 percent of the total legal bill and that firm is not one which hires lawyers who climb the social ladder from the depths of poverty in Laventille and Debe and Penal and Barrackpore. No!”

He further revealed that $28.5 million had been spent by UDeCOTT to defend former chairman Calder Hart during the commission of inquiry into the construction sector.

“With all the waste and corruption at UDeCOTT, they spent $28.5 million to defend the man. And they want me to stop the corruption probe,” he stated, insisting that the probe into UDeCOTT was continuing apace.

I had mentioned in passing previously, that John Jeremie the AG often requested legal opinions from John Jeremie chambers, passing on lucrative payments for same. One glaring example is a legal opinion requested to reduce a payment (compensation) for a patient in a court judgment. The total payment was somewhere about $165,000 (if I recollect correctly) which was ordered by the court but which JJ disagreed with and wanted a reduction by $20,000. He requested a legal opinion from John Jeremie chambers to support his (the AG’s) position on the reduction.

The bill for that opinion, when presented to the Ministry of Health, was $2 MILLION!! Fortunately, it was rejected for payment, I believe.

But this is an example of what Anand Ramlogan is mentioning. The sow, and the piglets, are indeed well fattened.