The United States Government yesterday confirmed that it was still seeking to extradite businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson to face its country's courts.
"The United States continues to seek their extradition despite the ruling last year by the Trinidad and Tobago High Court. They remain under indictment in the United States," the US said via a statement issued by its Public Affairs Section.
The statement noted: "Mr Galbaransingh and Mr Ferguson are accused of committing fraud involving millions of dollars. It would be highly disappointing if, after years of investigation, their case was not brought to trial."
The US statement follows legal action taken by the two businessmen to have their cases dismissed from the courts under Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings Act 2011). The Act was proclaimed on August 30.
The US said that it was concerned that the fraud cases may be dropped.
"The two were first indicted in 2005 in a Miami Federal Court on numerous fraud and money-laundering charges stemming from alleged bid rigging between 1996 and 2005 on contracts for the Piarco International Airport," it noted.
It is the second statement issued by the US in eight months about the businessmen and their fraud cases.
Last December, the US said it was "disappointed" by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan's decision to not pursue an extradition appeal of businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
Ramlogan, who had 42 days to appeal Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh's decision to quash extradition orders against the businessmen, had opted not to appeal.
Then the US had said: "We are disappointed in the outcome of the Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson extradition case.
"Extradition is a powerful tool for fighting transnational crime and is used by countries all over the world including the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. The Government of the United States and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago have had a bilateral extradition treaty in place since 1996. Our governments work together closely to extradite suspects to both countries."
At the time, Ramlogan had said T&T "is an independent sovereign state with a written Constitution, laws and a legal system of its own. The Attorney General is duty bound to respect and have regard to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Trinidad and Tobago."
Acting swiftly, the Government yesterday announced it would convene the House of Representatives today to repeal Section 34.
Attorney David West, former director of the Central Authority, observed that the Government had given the US the undertaking that the Ish and Steve matter would be prosecuted in T&T.
He was of the view that the Government's decision for repealing the act with such haste was a combination of several reasons: the statement made by the United States Government, the backlash the Government has faced on the criticism that the legislation was designed just to free Ish and Steve and that parts of the act proclaimed by the President allowed Ish and Steve to file petitions for redemption from the courts and related specifically to Section 34 and not the whole Act.
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