AG defends Singh
Anna Ramdass email@example.com
Attorney Jagdeo Singh was paid 50 per cent of his legal fees and did not demand any further payments, says Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
A Sunday Express investigation found that on May 24, 2012, Singh submitted six invoices to the permanent secretary, Ministry of Transport, for providing six legal opinions at a cumulative cost of $1.82 million, representing a total of 728 hours at the rate of $2,500 an hour.
Speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, Ramlogan defended Singh, saying the Express report was sensational.
“I understand that Mr Singh has only been paid 50 per cent of what was in fact originally invoiced. That may very well reflect the compromise that was negotiated in the public interest. To his credit, he has not insisted on his full fees, as other attorneys have regardless of the circumstances,” said Ramlogan.
“It is strange that invoices that are over a year old could suddenly attract such attention. Mr Singh is a senior lawyer with over 20 years’ experience and his fees would be judged by reference to the work actually done,” said Ramlogan. He reiterated that this matter was dealt with some time ago and he did not recall the facts or precise details.
Ramlogan said requests for assistance and guidance by other ministries would normally come through the office of the Solicitor General, and approval would be granted based on consultation with the Solicitor General.
“In appropriate cases, I would reduce fees or negotiate a discount based on a wide number of factors, including the frequency with which work is given, including the volume and nature of work.”
Ramlogan questioned why no queries were made, when there was a feeding frenzy to certain lawyers under the former People’s National Movement (PNM) government.
“It is interesting to note that no questions were raised about legal fees during the tenure of the PNM, despite the fact that lucrative briefs were given to lawyers, some of whom were ten years’ junior to Mr Singh and without experience in the relevant area,” he said.
“The husband and brother of a former PNM minister received lucrative briefs on a regular basis and no one queried their fees. Several State enterprises briefed the law firms of former attorneys general under the PNM and again no query was raised regarding their fees,” added Ramlogan.