LOCAL contractor Emile Elias is to pay Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s former construction company after all over $46 million being held in a Unit Trust Corporation account.
In a decision delivered on Monday, four Privy Council judges upheld a ruling of the local Court of Appeal in November 2018.
The ruling was a complete reversal of a 2011 court order against Imbert’s National Stadium (Grenada) Corporation (NS), in which a high court judge ruled in favour of Elias’ NH International (NHIC).
Appeal Court judges Peter Jamadar, Nolan Bereaux and Charmaine Pemberton in 2018 brought an apparent end to a 19-year legal battle over payment for work on the Grenada National Stadium project back in 1997.
Now the Privy Council has confirmed the order for Elias’ NH to repay the amount of the fund, plus interest, to NS.
The lawsuit between Elias and Imbert was waged in local, regional and international courts after Elias accused Imbert of reneging on a contractual agreement and refusing to pay millions owed.
The lawsuit sought payment of a debt of $17 million, which was estimated to be worth close to $55 million when interest was added. With the passage of time, the interest may have increased the sum.
Elias’ lawsuit was against Imbert’s construction firm ICS (Grenada) Ltd, Clico Investment Bank (CIB) and (NS), the latter being a company Imbert was said to have formed to hold the lease on the stadium.
The money is being held in a UTC account, and according to the Appeal Court’s order, NH had to repay NS the money paid out to it by a previous court order in 2017. Elias' company received $44 million as part of the court order in November 2017.
Elias’ company has also been ordered to account for the money it received in accordance with the 2017 court order, and the payment is to be made within 42 days.
In her dissenting decision, Lady Arden acknowledged that the majority of law lords did not share her view that the result of the appeal which they held was “surprising and counter-intuitive”.
She said, in keeping with the conclusions of her colleagues, the fund will be paid to NS to meet the construction costs of the project.