FORMER Maritime Financial Group executive Steve Ferguson and chairman of Northern Construction Ltd (NCL) Ishwar Galbaransingh who are facing fraud-related charges arising out of the construction of the Piarco International Airport, are scheduled to reappear before a Port of Spain magistrate today.
Magistrate Ejenny Espinet is expected to continue hearing evidence in the preliminary enquiry in which NCL financial director Amrith Maharaj, former government ministers Brian Kuei Tung and Sadiq Baksh, former chairmen of the Airports Authority Tyrone Gopee and Ameer Edoo, and Peter Cateau, former client representative in the Ministry of Works at the airport project, are jointly charged.
They are accused of conspiring between January 1, 1995 and December 31, 2001, to obtain contracts and payments totalling $1.6 billion during the construction of the new airport.
Special Prosecutor Gilbert Peterson SC, is leading evidence on behalf of the State while Queen's Counsel Andrew Mitchell is representing Galbaransingh.
Other attorneys representing the men are Rajiv Persad, Sophia Chote, Keith Scotland, Asha Watkins and Celeste Jules among others, while Ferguson is representing himself.
The matter has once again found itself in the national spotlight with the August 30 proclamation, by President George Maxwell Richards, of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011. Government has since taken a decision to repeal the Section with retroactive effect in the wake of the public furore which has ensued.
The Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 seeks to replace the Preliminary Enquiry Act and will negate the need for a preliminary enquiry to be held in relation to matters filed indictably.
Section 34 addresses the discharge of accused persons on the ground of delay, except in cases of treason, murder, manslaughter, rape and other similar serious offences, if the prosecution of those matters have not commenced in the High Court within 10 years of the commission of the offence.