Kamla: AG’s US Appeal Court loss a slap in the face of government; He must go!

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Kamla: AG’s US Appeal Court loss a slap in the face of government; He must go!

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said the judgment by the Third District Court of Appeal in the State of Florida, in the United States, confirming the disqualification of Attorney General Reginald Armour in the matter of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago versus Birk Hillman Consultants, Inc., Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson et al, is a slap in the face of the Government.

On Wednesday, the US appeals court affirmed the disqualification of Armour and a Miami law firm, from representing Government in the multi-million-dollar civil asset forfeiture case linked to the construction of the Piarco Airport terminal building 22 years ago.

Persad-Bissessar said: Never before, in the history of Trinidad and Tobago, has an Attorney General caused such great international shame and embarrassment to his country, government and profession.

She said: It is inconceivable that Armour (who is not known to be a criminal practitioner) could have forgotten that he acted as Senior Counsel for a Defendant in the Piarco Airport matters involving Ishwar Galbaransingh, Steve Ferguson and former Minister of Finance Brian Kuei Tung. This was not a run-of-the-mill matter – it was an important, politically sensitive and politically driven case against a former Prime Minister, government Ministers and high-profile businessmen. No doubt Armour was well paid for his services and he benefited immensely from his retainer to represent his client.

“Armour has lost all credibility and must go. As the titular head of the Bar no less, he is no longer believable. His role in these cases was not that of a “note taker” as he would have us believe. He was heavily involved in the matter to such an extent that he cross-examined witnesses and made legal submissions. His attempt to portray his role as simple and peripheral is a blatant lie and it is a most serious violation of the Code of Ethics in the legal profession. Perhaps the file disappeared along with his memory when he swore that fateful affidavit for the state in this matter against his own former client.”

She said Armour has compromised the Office of the Attorney General and the Government itself.
“Whilst Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley ignored calls for Armour’s dismissal by saying the matter was on appeal, he can no longer ignore the raw facts and reality – the US Appellate Court has now delivered its ruling on Armour’s transgressions. Justices of Appeal Eric Hendon, Monica Gordo, and Alexander Bokor (pictures attached) have unanimously found his conduct to be worthy of such serious condemnation that both he and the Government’s law firm, Sequor Law were disqualified.”

“We call upon Dr. Rowley to disclose the amount of legal fees that were paid to Sequor Law by the Government for its services in this matter. All of that money has now gone to waste because it was tainted by Armour’s conflict of interest which resulted in his disqualification from representing the State of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago any further in the case.”

“Dr. Rowley must also disclose the name of the firm that has replaced Sequor Law, how it was selected and the amount of legal fees that has been paid to that firm. Armour’s misconduct has cost this country dearly. He recently disclosed that he intended to bring legislation to Parliament so that police officers could be held personally liable and hence responsible for the payment of compensation to victims who successfully sued the State as a result of their misconduct. We call upon Dr. Rowley to indicate whether the same principle will be applied to Armour so that he will be forced to repay millions of dollars that his blatant breach of the Code of Ethics has cost the taxpayers of this country.”

Persad-Bissessar said, “At a time when citizens must dodge a-pothole a-minute, and suffer for a bed in the hospital, hard-earned taxpayers’ money has been frittered away on multi-million dollar legal fees paid in US dollars to argue a case that we have lost, not once but twice, over the Attorney General’s misconduct.

She added, “Whilst Armour might have his friends in the right places, including in the Law Association, to whom he gives million-dollar briefs, to defend him, the United States Court of Appeal has spoken with a unanimous voice in condemnation of his behaviour. Resignation is not the only option – the UNC demands an immediate investigation into the Attorney General’s conduct to determine whether charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and misconduct in public office should be laid.
“Dr Rowley should not be allowed to sweep this one under the carpet. If Al-Rawi was bad, Armour is even worse!”