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Tuesday 25 June 2019
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Lawsuit refiled against Jearlean and others

 Jearlean John
Jearlean John

THE State has re-filed its $175 million land corruption case against former Housing Development Corporation (HDC) managing director Jearlean John and nine others, two weeks after a High Court judge threw out the November 2016 lawsuit because it was not served on time.

Checks with the High Court Registry revealed that the lawsuit had been re-filed.

Last month, Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell struck out several orders to extend the time for serving John and the others.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are John, Henckle Lall (former HDC chairman), Graig Davis (former deputy chairman), Peter Forde, Project Specialist Ltd, former commissioner of valuations Ronald Heeralal, Point Lisas Park Ltd, Anthony Sampath, Patrick Soo Ting and Everil Ross.

Donaldson-Honeywell said the “secrecy” claim behind the HDC’s failure to serve the lawsuit on John and the others, more than four months after the lawsuit was filed by the HDC and the AG, was not enough.

The legal proceedings were filed against the ten on November 2, 2016. John and the others, despite various attempts to have the claim served on them, only received service of the lawsuit in July 2017 – more than four months outside the time stipulated by the Civil Proceedings Rules (CPR).The claim alleged that a valuator with the Commissioner of Valuations accepted a bribe to value the 50-acre property at $180 million, ignoring valuations provided by independent valuators Linden Scott, who valued the property at $52 million.

In 2012, the land was purchased at $175 million, giving the impression of a $5 million discount. She said the move by the State was a “risky strategic decision,” and did not provide enough evidence of the need for secrecy.

She said all the HDC achieved by extending time for service secretly could have been done by serving the claims and then seeking to have them stayed for any amendments to be made.

In a statement yesterday, acting AG Stuart Young said the action was refiled on April 27, and John’s attorney said he will accept service on her behalf, while the others have been served or were in the process of being served.

He said the High Court had not ruled on the substantive case and the AG and HDC were confident that at the eventual trial “it will be publicly demonstrated and determined that this is one of the most brazen and egregious cases of corruption and abuse of state resources that has been litigated to date in our country.

“The State will pursue this matter and other matters of corruption that have been filed, and are soon to be filed, to conclusion.”

John said she was not unsettled by the re-filing of the action, which she described as a recycle and rehash of unfounded allegations against her and the others.

John said there was absolutely no wrongdoing by HDC during her tenure, by herself, the former deputy chairman or their consultant.

“What are they alleging? There is nothing there.” She said the action was not even a witchhunt but a nightmare for the government that will blow up in their faces.

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