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Ramdeen on HDC corruption case: Attorney General misrepresented public

Faris: Storm in a tea cup
Saturday, April 21, 2018

“Not so fast Faris! It’s not about refiling. It is time he considers resigning.”

This was the call attorney Gerald Ramdeen made to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who on Wednesday, rejected suggestions that the corruption lawsuit against Housing Development Corporation (HDC) officials, one of whom is former HDC managing director Jearlean John, two State officials and two private companies over a $175 million land deal had collapsed.

Yesterday, Ramdeen held a press conference at his Woodbrook office to give an update on the lawsuit, as he produced a court order, which showed that the matter had been dismissed.

On Tuesday, High Court judge Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell reversed her decision to grant the Government two extensions in which to serve the case on the defendants, after it was initially filed under a seal of secrecy in November 2016.

While her change in position meant the case against eight out of the 10 defendants, who challenged the extensions, was struck out, she advised that it should be refiled.

Al-Rawi, at a press conference on Wednesday, was careful to note that Donaldson-Honeywell’s decision was not based on an analysis of the merits of the case, which are to be determined when it is eventually refiled.

Ramdeen said the AG had stated that “the fourth and fifth defendants in this matter had filed a defence and therefore the matter was not dismissed against them… so the matter will continue and the State was going to refile the proceedings.”

Reading from the court order yesterday, which he provided a copy to the media, Ramdeen stated that “the claimants’ claim made against the first to tenth defendants contained in their amended claim form and filed in these proceedings on June 28, 2017 are struck out with cost to be paid by the claimants to the defendants to be assessed.”

Ramdeen said an attorney representing the AG’s office also agreed in an email which was copied to him, that the claim had been “dismissed” against all ten defendants.

“How could an Attorney General tell the public that there is a claim that is going to continue in the High Court between the fourth and fifth defendants that he is somehow going to join when the court order in the matter dismisses the claim against defendants one to 10?”

He said there was nothing to continue before the court and wondered who advised Al-Rawi.

Ramdeen said it was “reckless, embarrassing, inconceivable and inexplicable” that the Attorney General, in his first corruption case, has misrepresented the public.

In a subsequent press conference, Al Rawi, in response to Ramdeen, described the whole affair as a “storm in a tea cup,” stating that “there has been no exculpation of Ms John or the nine other defendants that stands in the Eden Gardens matter which will be dealt with by the court.

Al-Rawi said when he spoke at Wednesday’s press conference he had indicated that the fourth and fifth defendants’ matter was still alive based on information that had come before him from the State’s attorneys.

Following this, Al-Rawi said several of the “parties wrote to the judge asking for her to clarify the order” and suggested that it be amended.

“This morning and only this morning the honourable judge indicated that she considered the claim against the fourth and fifth defendants did not stand and she ordered in effect therefore…she facilitated in effect, therefore, the refiling against all defendants,” the AG said.


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