Jamaica-born Queen's Counsel Vincent Nelson and Roger Kawalsingh, an attorney with San Fernando firm Hobsons, have been selected by Minister of Finance Larry Howai to replace Seenath Jairam and Joseph Toney for the commission of enquiry into CLICO.
Nelson, Kawalsingh and Jagdeo Singh will be the legal team.
The CLICO hearings, which were scheduled to resume next Monday, may however still be delayed.
Howai told the Express, via e-mail yesterday, "We had requested an extension of time for the hearing and I am advised that it would be favourably considered."
Sources said yesterday they were aware the Ministry of Finance had asked for an extension of time for the filing of the witness statements on behalf of the Ministry. Sources also said the new lawyers would have a formidable task getting into all the previous evidence that had been given and all the documentation which had been filed. "So a delay might be inevitable," one legal source stated yesterday.
Among the witnesses scheduled to give evidence in the new session are former ministers Karen Nunez-Tesheira and Conrad Enill, and the cross-examination by the lawyers representing the Minister of Finance would be critical.
The selection of Nelson, who is involved in the civil suit filed by the State against the former E-teck board, and Kawalsingh comes in the wake of the fallout over the appointment of Jairam and Toney, who were suddenly chosen to replace Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein and Michael Quamina, who had held the CLICO brief from the inception.
Jairam, president of the Law Association, was deemed to have a conflict of interest because he had originally taken the brief as one of the team of attorneys representing the interests of CLICO EFPA (Executive Flexible Premium Annuity) policyholders. He came in for stinging criticism from former attorney general Karl Hudson-Phillip.
Nelson, who has 32 years' experience, was said to be one of the first black persons to become a commercial Queen's Counsel in England. He regularly instructs in high-profile commercial disputes involving big names in the United Kingdom. He was taken to the UK at age six and graduated from the University of Birmingham.
But the controversy of the legal briefs associated with CLICO affairs deepened yesterday, as Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was accused of not speaking a truth in the Parliament.
This is the position being taken by several attorneys who were named by Ramlogan as being top earners in the Central Bank payout of legal fees during the period October 2007 to 2010.
Attorney Ian Benjamin yesterday told the Express the figures given by Ramlogan in relation to him were "inaccurate and completely wrong and completely exaggerated". Ramlogan had stated that Benjamin received $9.3 million.
Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, in a strongly worded statement to the media yesterday, said Ramlogan's statement to the Parliament in relation to him was "false in every material particular".
"I have not been paid fees in the sum of $17.7 million by the Central Bank... for the period October 2007 to July 2012, or at all. The sum of $17.7 million stated by the Attorney General misrepresents by a multiple of more than four, the actual sum paid to me by the Central Bank."
Armour said in the work done by him for the Central Bank, he had always utilised the December 20, 2007, Practice Guide to the Assessment of Cost, issued by Justice Roger Hamel-Smith.
"Further on that 2007 cap, at the request of the Central Bank in every case, I have applied a discount," he said.
Armour stated that he had written to the Vice President of the Senate with the respectful request that the false record be corrected.
Attorney Elena Araujo, whom Ramlogan stated was paid $11.7 million, has also been quoted as saying the figures given by Ramlogan, with respect to her, were wrong.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday said "once again" the Attorney General has been found to be not speaking the truth. This incident "further confirms" that anything that is said by this Attorney General has to be taken with the pinch of salt, has to be checked and cross-checked and, in many instances, it would be found to be untrue, the People's National Movement leader said.
He said the Attorney General quoted the inflated figures to justify the amount of money he was spending in handing out briefs to persons who were pretending to do legal work for the State.
Now he is being accused by his own peers in the legal profession of not rising to the standard that one expects of an attorney general, Rowley said. Noting that there was a certain amount of "eat a food" taking place in the distribution of fees, Rowley said Ramlogan's response to that was to call the names of very distinguished people in the Parliament who do not have a voice there and ascribe to them all kinds of earnings which have now been objected to by these persona.
"If the AG comes to the Parliament and says you have earned X dollars and that declaration does not exist in your income tax, you are liable to be investigated and found to be having questions to answer," he said.
Noting that the Parliament has an avenue for redress, Rowley said he hoped the Presiding Officer in the Senate would understand the enormity of the Attorney General's transgressions and allow those persons who have been wronged, to make their correction and have it read into the Hansard records.
On the change by the Minister of Finance of the lawyers for the commission of enquiry into Clico and the subsequent handing back of the brief by Jairam and Toney, Rowley said upon his appointment he had stated that Howai would be plasticine in the hands of the cabal and he had merely come to do their wishes.
"He has proven that I was right," Rowley said.