Trinidad: Anand, Ramdeen facing multiple corruption charges

Anand Ramlogan

(Trinidad Express) A series of corruption charges were last night being laid against former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, and United National Congress (UNC) Senator Gerald Ramdeen by officers of the Anti-Corruption Investigative Bureau (ACIB).

Detectives began the laying of the charges around 8 p.m. after receiving the green light to proceed from Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, SC.

The charges relate to the alleged kickback of millions of dollars in legal fees to the two between the period 2010 and 2015 when Ramlogan held the office of attorney general under the then UNC-led People’s Partnership administration.

It was uncertain exactly how many charges were to be laid but the Express understands that the offences allegedly occurred on various dates between October 1, 2010, and September 9, 2015.

Earlier in the day, Ramdeen was taken to hospital after complaining to detectives that he was feeling unwell.

He was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital around 1 p.m. after he began vomiting and complaining of feeling weak.

Sources said Ramdeen was treated for dehydration with intravenous fluids and panadol.

He was discharged and taken back to the ACIB office close to 6 p.m., they said.

His hospitalisation came just hours after Ramlogan was also evaluated and discharged from the Port of Spain Hospital yesterday morning after he too began complaining of feeling unwell on Thursday night while being interviewed.

The Express was told that while being questioned on Thursday night, Ramlogan began complaining of feeling sick. Investigators said they had the intention of completing the interview that same night after which Gaspard would have been approached for instructions on whether sufficient evidence had been gathered for charges to be laid.

However, given Ramlogan’s complaints they said as a precautionary measure, they had no choice but to cut the interview short and transport him to the medical institution around 9 p.m.

That interview resumed at 11 a.m. yesterday after he was discharged, having received a clean bill of health by doctors.

But while the interview was in progress, Ramdeen also began complaining of feeling unwell.

Sources stated that Ramdeen’s attorneys had also issued a pre-action protocol letter to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith yesterday morning threatening to file a habeas corpus writ at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain in an attempt to secure his release given that he had been in police custody in excess of 48 hours without any charges being laid.

But up to late evening, the writ had not been filed.

Police usually have a maximum of 48 hours to detain an individual without charge. However, officer are allowed to make an application before a High Court judge for that time to be extended based on the complexity of the investigation or volume of work to be done before charges are laid.

It was uncertain if such an application had been made by detectives yesterday.

Given that the charges have now been laid, there is the possibility that they may be granted bail at the ACIB offices by a Justice of the Peace, or if not, remain in police custody over the weekend and taken before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle in the Port of Spain Court on Monday.

The two were detained by police on Wednesday morning following months of investigations stemming back from October 2017 when the allegations first came to the attention of police by British Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson.

Ramlogan was arrested around 4.15 a.m. at the Piarco International Airport as he was about to board a flight to the British Virgin Islands via Miami to appear in the case of Mark Vanderpool against Julien Wilcox. Ramdeen surrendered to ACIB investigators three hours later.

The following day, Nelson, who is the State’s main witness against the duo, appeared before Earle-Caddle on three conspiracy charges. He arrived in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday from the United Kingdom.

According to those charges, he conspired with Ramlogan and Ramdeen to receive, conceal and transfer rewards to them after being retained by Ramlogan in his capacity as attorney general to represent the State in a number of matters.

Nelson, who is of Jamaican descent, was paid millions of dollars since he was given the brief for nine proceedings, including the Petrotrin/Malcolm Jones matter, cases involving UTT, UDeCOTT, Las Alturas, eTecK, CLICO, the Ministry of Finance and Board of Inland Revenue. All the payments came from the Office of the Attorney General, and not from the individual State companies.

At his court appearance on Thursday, the DPP submitted that usually when individuals are charged with such offences, a preliminary enquiry is to follow where the magistrate would then make a determination as to whether there is sufficient evidence for the accused to stand trial at the High Court.

But in this instance, Gaspard said both the prosecution and the defence had held discussions and agreed to have the matters transferred before a High Court judge for hearing and determination without committal proceedings taking place since Nelson intends to plead guilty.

That application, which was granted by the Chief Magistrate, was made under the Criminal Procedure (Plea Discussion and Plea Agreement) Act, which was proclaimed by President Paula-Mae Weekes on January 2.

The hearing will come up sometime within the next month.

Nelson was granted bail in the sum of $100,000 to cover all three charges. He is also free to travel in and out of the country based on his level of co-operation with the prosecution.

Queen’s Counsel Tom Allen, who is leading his case submitted during the appearance that based on the sensitivity of the case and the fact that he is the main witness against Ramlogan and Ramdeen, his client would be more safe if he were to not remain in Trinidad and Tobago.

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