AG: $200m Hyatt lawsuit payout soon
Anna Ramdass email@example.com
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday there was headway with respect to a number of legal matters filed against former directors and members of State boards under whose tenure there was wastage of millions of taxpayers’ dollars.
In his contribution to the debate on the national budget at the Senate sitting in Port of Spain, Ramlogan said he was trying to negotiate an “amicable situation” with respect to the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel, where the owner’s remittances were in the excess of some $150 million.
He said although the matter was currently in arbitration, “I am pleased to say we are very close to resolving that matter and the Minister of Finance will be very happy to have in his coffers close to $200 million when the matter is settled.”
With respect to civil lawsuits against members of the former board of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT), including its former executive chairman Calder Hart, Ramlogan said pleadings were closed in the matter and the next case stage was the trial phase.
He said the legal action against former head of Petrotrin Malcolm Jones, to recover some $1.2 billion from the failed Gas to Liquids (GTL) plant project, was also making progress as a defence was ordered by the judge, which is due on October 11.
Ramlogan also gave an update on the lawsuit against Ken Julien, former head of Evolving Tecknologies and Enterprise Development Company Ltd (eTecK), to recover some $30 million.
He said on October 11 a judgment is due on an issue surrounding a preliminary point.
Ramlogan explained that a preliminary point has to do with the limitation period by which an action can be filed.
The limitation period in this country, he said, was four years.
However, Ramlogan said, if a government serves two consecutive terms then it cannot be that wrongdoers are spared action.
“This case is a test case because the State is arguing in this matter that that four-year period cannot be taken in isolation, in a vacuum, but must be judged by reference to whether the wrongdoers were in charge of the company or whether it was possible or not to discover the wrongdoing,” he said.
The judgment on this matter will be a historic one and will have an impact on other claims made.
Ramlogan also spoke on the lawsuit against members of the former board of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), whom he alleged were negligent and in breach of their fiduciary duties to the tune of $12 million when they renovated a guest house in Aripo, where Reverend Juliana Pena, the spiritual adviser of former Prime Minister Patrick Manning, stayed.
He said a preliminary point is also being argued in this matter and trial dates are set for February 11 and 12, 2014.
Ramlogan said the matter against Prof Brian Copeland over the G-Pan and Percussive Harmonic Instrument (PHI) was at an advanced stage, where the intellectual property rights were being determined.
The AG said that the State spent $35 million in research for this initiative and it cannot be that taxpayers’ funded this for one man to profit from personally.
Ramlogan added that legal matters surrounding the Scarborough Hospital were underway.
He noted that the contract price for the hospital was $140 million and it escalated to some $500 million.
“Several complex disputes have arisen out of that, two are before the Court of Appeal and we are at the moment awaiting judgment in those matters,” said Ramlogan.
He also defended the State’s decision to cancel the offshore patrol vessels (OPV) contract, pointing out that after all the hullabaloo, Government received a cheque for $1.4 billion from British Aerospace Engineering Systems (BAE).