Operating like a cartel is not illegal, senior counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said yesterday in defence of his clients who have been sued by the Estate Management and Business Development Co Limited (EMBD) for $200 million.
Former housing minister Dr Roodal Moonilal is among the defendants, which includes companies Fides Limited (Fides), Namalco Construction Service Limited (Namalco) and LCB Contractors Limited. Other contractors named in the lawsuit are TN Ramnauth and Company Ltd (TN Ramnauth), Mootilal Ramhit and Sons Contracting Ltd (Ramhit) and Kall Company Ltd (Kallco). The contractors have previously claimed they were owed outstanding monies by EMBD.
Minister in the Office of Prime Minister and Office of the Attorney General Staurt Young had previously described the manner in which the companies received multiple EMBD contracts were like a cartel. Maharaj said for the State to initiative civil action on such grounds laws have to be changed. He represents Moonilal, Kallco and four other companies. “In order for that cartel type behaviour to constitute a civil course of action against our clients it was necessary for there to be an amendment for the existing laws of Trinidad and Tobago for that purpose,” he said during a press conference at his chambers in San Fernando yesterday.
“The attempt in this case of the EMBD to make unlawful alleged agreements of business persons in respect of commercial enterprises can have adverse effects on commercial activities on our country,” he said, citing UK law in his argument. Maharaj said EMBD claimed the contracts were illegal and is making claims against his clients for restitution of the money they were paid. “This cartel type behaviour referred to by Minister Young is not unlawful under our laws and therefore the opinion of Minister Young cannot be supported by the principles of the existing laws in TT,” he said.