TALKS between the Director of Public Prosecutions and attorneys for former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, in relation to his corruption kickback trial and his separate case of witness tampering are ongoing.
Details of the discussions were not revealed when Ramlogan and his co-accused Gerald Ramdeen reappeared virtually before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle on Tuesday.
At the hearing of the witness-tampering charges, deputy DPP George Busby told the chief magistrate he was instructed that the discussions between DPP Roger Gaspard, SC, and Ramlogan’s lead attorney Pamela Elder, SC, were still ongoing.
He asked for the matter to be adjourned to late January. This was also his position in the corruption kickback matter.
However, Earle-Caddle enquired about the age of the case involving the witness-tampering charge.
“Mr Busby, this matter was filed in September 2017. We are now in 2021. How many years has the DPP and senior counsel been having conversations about this matter?...It is a lot of catching-up to do,” she asked.
After another of Ramlogan’s attorneys, Russell Warner, confirmed Busby’s instructions, he too joined in the request for an adjournment. Earle-Caddle said it made little sense to keep adjourning the matter every three months “with the same chorus,” and gave the attorneys to February 28 “to progress the matter one way or the other.”
She said the frequent adjournments caused problems for her case management, telling attorneys on the next adjourned date to consider setting trial dates or having the matter sent directly to the High Court. On that date, issues relating to evidential objections will also be sorted out.
In the corruption kickback matter, the lead attorney for Ramlogan said he was not part of the discussions between the DPP and Elder but has been in communication with the latter.
“I am not privy to those discussions and would be ready to proceed on February 28.”
In December, prosecutors said the DPP intended to bypass the preliminary inquiry in the lower courts and have Ramdeen and Ramlogan’s matter go directly to the High Court to the indictment. The defence argued that the case did not qualify to be sent directly to the indictment.
Ramlogan alone is charged in the witness-tampering case.
In October, Busby told the chief magistrate the DPP wanted both matters to be kept together.
In that matter, for which he was charged in 2017, Ramlogan is accused of misbehaviour in public office and obstruction of justice. The charge surrounds an allegation by Police Complaints Authority director David West that Ramlogan approached him to withdraw his witness statement in a defamation case against then opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley in 2014.
At a previous hearing, Ramlogan’s attorneys said they intended to question West, former police commissioner Gary Griffith, and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
Griffith, who was then minister of national security, and Ramlogan, who was AG, were fired from the Cabinet in 2015 after police started an investigation.
In the corruption kickback case, both Ramdeen, a former UNC senator, and Ramlogan were charged in 2019 with conspiring with Jamaican-born Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson for Ramlogan to misbehave in public office as AG, 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 him by Nelson for the state briefs.
The third allegation against the two is that they conspired for Nelson to give ten per cent of the paid legal fees to Ramlogan as a “gift” or “reward” for being granted state briefs.
They were charged in May 2019.
In March 2020, Nelson, who pleaded guilty in June 2019 to his part in the alleged kickback scheme, was ordered to pay $2.25 million restitution as part of a plea-bargain arrangement struck between him and the State. As part of the plea deal, he agreed to turn state witness and testify against Ramlogan and Ramdeen.
Also appearing for Ramdeen are attorneys Mario Merritt, Karunaa Bisramsingh and Alexia Romero.