Attorney General Anand Ramlogan is holding his ground that he has done no wrong.
Dismissing objections of his critics who contend that his public posture on disclosures relating to Independent Liberal Party deputy political leader Anna Deonarine was inconsistent with his role as Attorney General, Ramlogan said yesterday: “I make no apologies for exposing what could possibly be a fraudulent land transaction involving the deputy political leader of the ILP, Ms Anna Deonarine.”
The AG had revealed details of a $13 million land transaction involving the Deonarine family at a People’s Partnership public meeting on Tuesday night in Princes Town.
The land, a 20-acre plot in Cunupia, had been purchased by the Deonarines for $225,000 in 1997 and sold by them to CLICO for $13 million in 2005. The money was placed in an Executive Flexible Annuity policy in the name of Anna Deonarine-Rampersad.
The Attorney General has since referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
But he was taken to task by two of his predecessors, John Jeremie and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, as well as Law Association president Seenath Jairam, which resulted in yesterday’s Express front page headline: “AG wrong”.
Ramlogan responded in kind with a heavy lash, as he defended his position.
Stating that while he appreciated Jairam’s concerns about the public disclosure of a citizen’s wealth given the crime situation, Ramlogan said he had an overriding duty and responsibility to act in the public interest.
He recalled that many ordinary, decent and hard-working men and women were forced to undergo unimaginable stress, frustration and depression because they were on the verge of losing their entire life savings, referring to the collapse of CLICO.
“I am concerned about the hundreds of innocent citizens who had to undergo the private and public stress, humiliation and depression when they could not access their savings to have a medical operation, send their child to university, buy a car, or improve their home. Some of these persons have in fact died from the stress and depression. Others languish in perpetual pain and suffering as their lives have been completely ruined, devastated and destroyed,” he said.
In an apparent dig at the Law Association president, the Attorney General added: “No one from the Law Association stepped forward to express any concern for their welfare at any time.”
Ramlogan said former attorneys general Jeremie and Maharaj had no moral authority to comment on this matter.
“Their attempt to say what is expected of a good Attorney General brings to mind the saying: ‘take my advice—I didn’t use it’,” Ramlogan stated.
The Attorney General said it was public knowledge that Jeremie attempted to “unduly influence former DPP Geoffrey Henderson”.
He said Jeremie also held secret meetings with former chief magistrate Sherman McNicolls during the trial of ex-prime minister Basdeo Panday (McNicolls presided over the Panday trial).
Ramlogan said Jeremie was also the Attorney General when the attempt was made to remove former chief justice Sat Sharma from office.
He added that Jeremie refused to present himself for cross-examination at the tribunal presided over by Lord Mustill.
On Maharaj, Ramlogan recalled that former prime minister Patrick Manning publicly thanked Maharaj for his alleged assistance in the collapse of the UNC administration.
“I will not allow these unreasonable, unjustified comments to deter me from my overriding duty to bring to the public’s attention...what took place at CLICO. It was oppressive and unjust,” Ramlogan said.
He pointed out that taxpayers spent more than $25 billion as a result of the collapse of CLICO.
He said Government appointed a commission of enquiry into the collapse of CLICO and the report of this enquiry is in the process of being written.
“A massive police investigation is on-going,” Ramlogan said.
He said the characterisation of ILP leader Jack Warner of his (Ramlogan’s) statement as “an attack against women” is stupid.
“It is a pathetic attempt to play the gender card in the face of what is a simple demand for public accountability from his deputy political leader,” the Attorney General stated.
The AG repeated his previous statement that the land transaction involving the Deonarines was “suspicious”.
He said in essence agricultural lands “valued at $220,000 were purchased by CLICO for $13 million. This sum was $2 million more than the independent valuation, which concluded that the land would be worth $11 million if it had been approved by the Town and Country Planning Division for residential use”.
The land never got approval for use as residential property.