Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 11th 2015 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Tension subsided yesterday after the Peo-
ple s National Movement s Diego Martin Cen-
tral executive decided to allow party groups
to nominate the prospective candidate for this
year s general election, which is constitution-
ally due by September.
This move seemed to signal a possible return
of incumbent Amery Browne, who had the
majority support of the party groups before he
was rejected at the national screening session
Following a meeting yesterday, Diego Martin
executive vice chair Irene Hinds told the T&T
Guardian that all party groups were invited to
nominate prospective candidates and the dead-
line for those nominations was extended from
Monday (April 13) to Wednesday (April 15) at
10 am. She said as of yesterday evening, "there
was no nomination from the constituency."
Scores of members had earlier assembled
outside the office of Diamond Vale councillor
Gail La Touche in support of Browne for the
second time this week. On Wednesday, they
claimed there was dictatorship in the con-
stituency executive and demanded a say in who
was nominated to contest the seat. They said
they were standing behind Browne in the hope
that he would be given the nod by the party
to contest the seat.
Yesterday there was no protest, as many of
the members were allowed into the meeting.
When the meeting ended many left in agree-
ment with the decision taken.
One member, Ricardo Herbert, said, "It was
the right thing to do." He said a spirit of com-
promise was reached and that was good for
Herbert said though some people had claimed
there was a rift between party leader Dr Keith
Rowley and Browne, "neither of them have
ever said there was a rift." He said there must
be compromise as the PNM needed the "two
good men." Browne, he said, would be nom-
inated again and he asked the screening com-
mittee to "trust us on this one."
But contacted last night, PNM general sec-
retary Ashton Ford told the T&T Guardian that
yesterday s decision did not mean Browne would
be screened a second time. He said while
Browne could be nominated again "he cannot
be screened a second time."
"Only new nominees will be screened when
the committee meets next week Wednesday at
Balisier House," Ford said.
Browne, who was elected MP in 2007, was
among four nominees rejected by the PNM
screening committee at its meeting last week.
That committee is chaired by Rowley.
In a brief comment last evening, Browne said
he was "humbled by the ongoing support of
so many decent and honourable citizens of
Diego Martin Central and T&T."
Apart from Diego Martin Central, prospective
candidates for Chaguanas East and
Barataria/San Juan are also still to be chosen
by the committee.
Former TV announcer Diane Baldeo-
Chadeesingh withdrew her Chaguanas East
candidacy last week for personal reasons and
the PNM has been unable to find a suitable
candidate for Barataria/San Juan after two
rounds of screening.
The PNM has already chosen the candidates
for 38 of the 41 constituencies.
Saturday, April 11, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Attorney General Garvin Nicholas says
$30.5 million in duplicated entries for local
attorneys was the source of what were
described as inflated fees paid out to attorneys
working for the Office of the Attorney Gen-
But while this sum has been removed from
the record books, the actual figure for legal
fees between 2010 and 2014 for the AG s office
has now jumped by $65 million to
$408,260,340.48 million, after an investigation
by the permanent secretary.
A statement issued by Nicholas yesterday
said that some $80 million in foreign payments
had been omitted from the initial report pre-
sented to Parliament, of which $45.3 million
was paid to Deloitte and Touche and $7.7 million
to T&T s long-standing Privy Council agents,
On March 24, former attorneys general John
Jeremie (PNM) and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj
(UNC) called for an investigation into the spend-
ing of $343 million on private lawyers to rep-
resent the State during Ramlogan s four and
a half-year tenure, after several lawyers queried
the payments to them quoted in the figures
released in Parliament.
They also proposed to send letters to Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, acting Com-
missioner of Police Stephen Williams and the
Integrity Commission requesting an investi-
gation, aided by forensic expertise, into the
However, Nicholas subsequently noted that
after protests from some lawyers, it was realised
that there was an error in the figures and he
ordered the permanent secretary to look into
it. Some of the lawyers named in the report
claimed they had been double invoiced in the
figures they saw presented in the House and
were threatening legal action.
In the statement yesterday, Nicholas said,
"these errors arose as a result of using two
recording systems for attorneys fees---an official
fees register and an excel spreadsheet which
is meant to be updated on a regular basis."
"I am assured that no overpayments have
actually been made," he said.
"Consistent with the normal accounting
process in the public service, these payments
are reconciled with the records of the Treasury
Division and also audited by the Auditor Gen-
eral s Department to eliminate any room for
He also said there was no payment of
$408,000 for the preparation of a pre-action
When this figure was quoted in the press,
Jeremie had said he was aware of the individual
involved in the matter. He said this individual
had sent a pre-action protocol letter to the
AG s office, which cost a mere $2,500, so he
could not understand how a reply to this letter
could cost as much as $408,000.
Yesterday, however, Nicholas said that this
sum ($408,000) was paid for a number of mat-
ters, including trial fees and the pre-action
"The fees paid to Tiger Capital, total
$1,750,000, were for services rendered in con-
junction with senior counsel for the extensive
analysis of many complex financial documents
in the exercise of mutual assistance obligations
with the United States of America and the
Central Authority," Nicholas said.
He said the investigation was ongoing and
the ministry would have to continue to budget
for fees in this regard.
"It is to be borne in mind that the litigation
portfolio of the State has grown tremendously
in recent years and the country has faced an
onslaught of international litigation and com-
"Fortunately, the State has been extremely
successful in the last five years. I am advised
that it has won over 95 per cent of the cases
for which external counsel was retained. Costs
would usually be awarded in favour of the State
in these matters," Nicholas said.
Amery a bligh
AG's budget up to $408m
After probe into inaccurate legal fees
He said he was also further advised
of the following:
• Forensic audits and probes
account for approximately $95
•Inherited legal fees from the PNM
administration and Privy Council
fees account for approximately
•Fees paid for the DPP's Office
account for approximately $67.4
Nicholas said preliminary checks at
the ministry indicated that legal fees
paid by the ministry during the
period 2002 to 2010 amounted to
$372,000,000. This represented an
average of $41 million per year.
He said the ministry, in accordance
with the directive of Cabinet,
retained lawyers and other non-legal
professionals, such as accountants,
to conduct 16 forensic probes.
Probes were conducted for:
•TTEC Street Lighting
•eTeck (6 separate investigations:
Medical Transcription Services and
Training Project; UniBio A/S Protein
Production Plant in TT Project;
Tamana Intech Park; Alutech
Research and Development Facility;
Bamboo Networks Limited; and
Reynald Associates Limited (RAL)
• Petrotrin (three separate
investigations: World GTL Ltd; Ultra
Low Sulphur Diesel Project; and
Gasoline Optimisation Programme);
• Estate Management Business
• Sports Company of T&T
• University of Trinidad and Tobago;
• Udecott (Brian Lara Cricket
•Scarborough General Hospital
•The purchase of the ill-fated MV Su
BREAKDOWN OF FEES
casket of their
Pierre for burial
at the military
after his vehicle
crashed into a
LINE OF DUTY
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