AG: “False assertion” that his office refused to pay Ramdass’ legal fees

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AG: “False assertion” that his office refused to pay Ramdass’ legal fees

Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, has denied ever reneging on his commitment to pay for reasonable legal fees for independent advice sought by Auditor General Jaiwantee Ramdass on her ability to accept amended financial records from the ministry.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Armour said, “I was expressly clear throughout regarding my willingness to pay the reasonable legal costs as it relates to the retention of counsel for the advice sought by the Auditor General. The reports that there was a refusal on my part to do so is erroneous, or worse, is intended deliberately to mislead.”

Armour said there had been a “false assertion” that his office had refused to pay Ramdass’ legal fees, and recalled correspondence between them which showed he had advised otherwise.

He said there had been correspondence on the matter that had been insufficiently reported on.

Armour recalled that Ramdass sought his ­advice on Sections 24 and 25 of the Exchequer and Audit Act in an April 17, 2024, letter to his office.

He said he sought legal advice and, on April 19, indicated via letter to Ramdass that he was already advising Finance Minister Colm Imbert on the matter and could not accede to her request, noting the pre-action protocol letter from the Ministry of Finance to Ramdass the day prior.

Armour said he indicated it would be “inappropriate” for him to give that advice.

He said he advised Ramdass that she should, with “appropriate urgency”, retain independent legal counsel to give such advice.

Armour said there had been “deliberate misrepresentation” in the issue as he gave an undertaking to Ramdass that “as Attorney General, I am prepared to pay reasonable legal fees incurred by you as auditor general, for the retaining of that independent advice”.

Armour said five days subsequent to the Auditor General submitting her report to the Parliament on April 24, 2024, his office was in receipt of a letter from the chambers of Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan, on behalf of Ramdass.

Armour said this was responded to by chambers of the Office of the Attorney General, on his behalf.

In that letter, Armour said it was noted that he had recommended that Ramdass seek independent counsel. He said the response to Ramlogan also recalled his (Armour’s) undertaking that his office would pay “reasonable” legal fees for ­Ramdass.

Armour said it was evident that all correspondence issued by attorneys representing the Auditor General were also being sent to the media.

However, Armour said it was important that he set the record straight on the matter.

He said if a bill were to be sent to him, there was a process to be followed, looking at the work that was done and the time spent and the complexity of the work.