FORMER government minister Jack Warner has been ordered to repay a $1.5 million “loan” to a company from which UNC financier Krishna Lalla sourced funds in 2007.
Justice Frank Seepersad made the order yesterday as he gave his ruling in a lawsuit filed by Real Time Systems Ltd - the company from which Lalla got the money - against the former UNC chairman trading as Dr Joao Havelenge Centre of Excellence, Renraw Investments, CCAM and Company. The lawsuit sought to retrieve the “loan” given to Warner who was also a former FIFA vice president, prior to the general election campaign of 2007.
Lalla sought to establish that there was an agreement reached between himself and Warner regarding five tranches of payments, between October 9, 2007 and November 1, 2007, for repayment by February 28, 2008. Warner contended the money was a contribution to the UNC, disguised to look like a business transaction for future gain.
He denied it was a loan and said several businesses were selected to receive financing from Lalla, to assist the party in the 2007 general election. In his ruling, the judge said when considering all the evidence, which included emails between both men, their testimony and that of their witnesses, “it was more likely than not” that Lalla advanced the money to Warner for a loan arrangement.
He also said it was “plausible and probable” that Lalla and Warner, “forged a clandestine political alliance for the financing of the 2007 elections after they agreed to have Warner replace Basdeo Panday as UNC political leader.” Seepersad said the two men, thereafter, engaged in a shadow election campaign which was conducted from Lalla’s office.
“This was done, it appears, in addition to and independent of Mr Warner’s involvement with the official Rienzi Complex coordinated campaign. On a balance of probabilities, this court is of the view that Mr Warner may have wanted to portray an image to the UNC, that he was its main financier but to do so, he sourced finance from Mr Lalla, on the basis and expectation that the sums advanced, would be repaid upon his receipt of an anticipated payment of US$10M FIFA payment, due in February 2008.”
The judge also said he was troubled by some of the contentions advanced in the case as it related to campaign financing. “Money advanced to fund elections has for far too long played a central and dominant role in this Republic’s politics. In the absence of regulations, financiers can legitimately purchase goodwill and exercise undue influence over politicians and political parties.
“The absence of campaign finance regulations has led to a culture of kickbacks and corruption and although within the recent past some progress has been made by virtue of the enactment of procurement legislation and the appointment of the procurement board, the dire need for a proper regulatory framework has to be prioritised and election campaign finance reform should be effected as a matter of urgency,” the judge said.
Real Time was represented by attorneys Neal Bisnath and Lydia Mendonca while Keith Scotland and Asha Watkins- Monteserrin appeared for Warner, who intends to appeal the judge’s ruling.
FORMER Fifa vice-president Jack Warner has been ordered to repay a $1.5 million loan to UNC financier Krishna Lalla.
Making the order was Justice Frank Seepersad in the Port of Spain High Court on Tuesday as he ruled that based on the evidence, on a balance of probabilities, “it was more likely than not,” Lalla advanced to Warner significant sums as part of a loan arrangement.
The company from which Lalla sourced the funds — Real Time Systems Ltd — filed a lawsuit against Warner, trading as Dr. Joao Havelenge Centre of Excellence, Renraw Investments, CCAM and Company, seeking to retrieve the “loan” to the former FIFA vice president, prior to the general election campaign in 2007.
Warner, in defence of the lawsuit, said he told Lalla of the challenge to obtain financiers because of Panday’s unwillingness to step down as leader.
Warner said several businesses were selected to receive financing from Lalla to assist the party in the 2007 general election. He denied it was a loan.
Warner intends to appeal the judge’s ruling.