DPP in dark over deal signed between AG and state witness

DPP Roger Gaspard -
DPP Roger Gaspard -

Did Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi agree to indemnify British Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson from civil and criminal prosecution in return for a notarised statement, and for Nelson to provide his personal bank records?

According to a signed document, Al-Rawi purportedly did so on behalf of the Government.

There were also certain promises made which included not making any disclosure of the information to any criminal investigator, prosecuting authority, tax enforcement authority, or disciplinary authority outside TT.

It was agreed that the statement and records will be provided to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau.

The “indemnity” document was signed by both Al-Rawi and Nelson in October 2017 and subsequently initialled by both men in 2019.

Contacted for comment on the purported agreement, DPP Roger Gaspard SC said the only agreement he had with Nelson was the plea agreement relative to the criminal proceedings against former attorney general Anand Ramlogan SC, and former UNC senator Gerald Ramdeen.

Both men appeared virtually before the Chief Magistrate on Friday, on allegations of conspiring with Nelson for Ramlogan, as AG, to misbehave in public office by accepting money from Nelson as a reward for giving him state briefs.

It is further alleged that they conspired for Ramdeen to receive, conceal, and transfer criminal property which represented corrupt rewards given to Ramlogan by Nelson for the state briefs.

The third allegation against the two is that they conspired for Nelson to give ten per cent of his legal fees to Ramlogan as a “gift” or “reward” for being granted state briefs.

They were charged in May 2019.

Gaspard told Newsday the only discussion or agreement he had with Nelson was the plea deal that was in place.

He said he would not have been privy to any discussions which would have taken place before the criminal investigations were conducted.

Asked about the purported “indemnity document,” Gaspard referred Newsday to the Attorney General, saying he was not “privy to any discussions.”

“Those may relate to civil matters since the AG has no purview with criminal matters,” he said.

Asked if this agreement had been rescinded given that Nelson was charged for conspiracy, Gaspard said there could be no question of anything being rescinded since the only agreement he knows of is the plea agreement.

Nelson has already given statements in the criminal prosecution of Ramlogan and Ramdeen.

On Friday, Al-Rawi in response to questions from Newsday, said, “Whilst it is public knowledge that there are criminal proceedings against Ramlogan, and it is also public knowledge as to who some of the witnesses to those proceedings are, your message goes into a discussion on issues before the courts.

“In the circumstances, it would be unwise of me to engage in a discussion of this topic in public.”

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi -

He also urged this newspaper not to publish any discussion given the pending criminal proceedings.

Newsday was told the purported “indemnity” agreement does form part of the disclosure of documents to the defence as is required in all criminal cases.

Al-Rawi said the “sub judice rule applies here to protect the fairness of the criminal process which might be affected by undue publicity.”

An indemnity in legal terms is security against or exemption from legal liability for one’s actions.

In it, the AG said the agreement with Nelson was on behalf of the government to provide the notarised statement and bank statements which could be used in other legal proceedings to get disclosure of documents to help bring proceedings against anyone.

No names were identified in the purported agreement.

Al-Rawi assured that the notarised statement would not be released in Parliament.

It also gave assurances that no civil proceedings will commence against Nelson on any matter arising out of the statement he gave, or by the government for the repayment of any fees paid to him between November 2010-2017.

It also gave an undertaking that recommendations would be made to the DPP that no criminal proceedings will be commenced against Nelson.

It said the Government of Trinidad and Tobago “agrees to indemnify you and keep you fully effectually indemnified from and against all actions, suits, proceedings, claims, demands, damages, costs, expenses and liabilities which may be taken or made against you or be incurred or become payment or sustained by you by reason for any breach of any undertaking contained here.”

The purported “indemnity” agreement also promised to cover any legal costs incurred by Nelson in any defamation claim filed by any individual wanting to force him to withdraw his notarised statement.

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"DPP in dark over deal signed between AG and state witness"

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