(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Police investigating an alleged legal fee kickback scam involving former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC and Opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen are moving to complete their investigation shortly.
Even as the State’s co-operating witness, Vincent Nelson, QC, appeared in court yesterday morning to answer charges over his role in the alleged scam, Ramlogan and Ramdeen remained in the custody of Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau (ACIB) officers without being charged.
Guardian Media understands that investigators were expected to interview both men for the first time late yesterday evening. They in fact completed interviewing one of them. After the process is completed, the officers are expected to approach the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for advice on what charges, if any, should be laid against the duo.
While the police investigation into the issue commenced almost three years ago, it reached a critical stage on Wednesday morning as investigators executed an arrest warrant for Ramlogan at the Piarco International Airport around 4.15 am. He was about to board a flight to Miami to connect to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), where he was expected to represent the Speaker of BVI’s House Assembly Julian Wilcox. Ramdeen surrendered to investigators two hours later.
On Wednesday evening, police executed search warrants at the duo’s homes in south Trinidad and at Ramdeen’s office at Cornelio Street, Woodbrook. During the searches, which lasted well into the night, investigators reportedly seized several electronic devices and documents.
The investigation centres around almost $1 billion in legal fees which was paid to private legal practitioners representing the State and State companies in legal proceedings during Ramlogan’s tenure between 2010 and 2015. The lawsuits include several over alleged corruption which occurred under the previous Patrick Manning regime. A percentage of the fees, which were paid through the Office of the Attorney General, was allegedly given to Ramlogan.
Nelson, who benefited from over $20 million in legal briefs, has signed a plea bargain agreement under which he is expected to testify against the duo in exchange for immunity or a reduced sentence.
Guardian Media understands that several other lawyers, both local and foreign, who are believed to have benefited under the scheme are also being investigated.