A High Court judge has ordered the Comptroller of Customs to return to a Point Fortin businessman a Rolls Royce car seized in December.
Making the order in the Port of Spain High Court, Justice Devindra Rampersad also ruled the decision to seize the car imported by Aleem Ali, director of Ansad Services, was illegal.
The comptroller was also ordered to pay compensation for the illegal seizure of the car. The amount will be determined by a Master of the High Court.
Ali argued in his lawsuit, when the car arrived in May 2016, he was granted permission to remove it from the Customs and Excise Division and keep it at his businessplace at Fanny Village, Point Fortin because of safety concerns.
However, on December 3, officers entered Ali’s premises without his permission and removed the car.
In his ruling, Rampersad found the Customs and Excise Division failed to put forward sufficient evidence to allow the court to accept its claim that the permission initially granted was unlawfully given.
He held the division had the discretion to permit Ali to remain in possession of the car and did not consider exercising that discretion before seizing the car. The judge said Ali had not been consulted when the decision was taken to seize the car.
Rampersad also said Ali’s lawyers provided evidence of a “startling nature” that the Ministry of Finance provided written confirmation that it had not received any application for tax concessions from Ali and Ansad Services.
“Obviously, in such a circumstance, the court cannot close its eyes to this information as it amounts to a new circumstance which could impact upon the continuance of the permission,” he said, telling the comptroller to properly review the permission granted to Ali.
Ali was represented by attorneys Jagdeo Singh, Kiel Tacklalsingh, Vivek Lakhan-Joseph and Ananda Rampersad.