Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 9th 2015 Contents A5
Thursday, July 9, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Five former University of
T&T s (UTT) board mem-
bers are now planning to sue
their former employer for
malicious prosecution, after
the premature withdrawal
of the university s multi-
million dollar lawsuit
against them yesterday.
What began as an attempt
to recoup almost $10 million
from the former board mem-
bers over the controversial
lease of a guest house in
Heights of Aripo is now set
to cost the State over a fifth
of that amount as the uni-
versity has been ordered to
pay the directors legal fees
for the failed claim in addi-
tion to any potential damages
which may be gained in their
The roundabout turn in
the case came yesterday
when UTT s attorneys went
before Justice Vasheist
Kokaram to state their posi-
tion on the lawsuit, which
they accepted had changed
after the administrator for
the property, Arlene Jute,
contradicted her former
employer s claims over finan-
cial losses in her testimony
in the trial last week.
In a one-page statement
after State attorneys filed the
notices of discontinuance
against them yesterday, for-
mer UTT president Prof Ken
Julien and vice-president Dr
Rene Monteil said they were
happy with the decision as
the allegations had put a
strain on their families and
had tarnished their reputa-
"Ordinarily we would not
be minded to comment on
proceedings which have been
determined in our favour but
we consider that it was a
travesty to bring this case at
all," the statement said.
While both men thanked
Kokaram for intervening after
the contradictory evidence
was presented, they criticised
the Government for pursuing
it despite their repeated
denials of any wrongdoing.
"Our concern is that the
information which led to the
collapse of the case was
always readily available to the
university but was suppressed
wither because obvious ques-
tions were not asked of uni-
versity staff or, if asked, was
ignored or hidden away
because it did not suit some-
one s agenda," the men said
as they claimed the entire
lawsuit was a "political
"We are concerned to
ensure that no one else is so
recklessly subjected to similar
baseless accusations. In par-
ticular, we are anxious to
ensure that the university s
independence is protected
from gross interference and
manipulation by the Govern-
ment," the statement added.
Speaking after State attor-
neys announced the with-
drawal during a short hearing
in the Port-of-Spain High
Court yesterday, Kokaram
highlighted the implications
of other cases against former
board members for bad deci-
sions made during their
"The threshold to cross in
bringing such an action for
breach of statutory duty is
not an easy one to satisfy,
having regard to the fact that
the court takes into account
the prevailing social economic
factors of decision-making.
"It is no licence for ill
advised litigation to make a
point as it is no shield for
at 13 Life Fund
Interim chairman of the Children s Life Fund, Dr Colin
Furlonge, reiterated yesterday that only 13 cases where
it is believed money was misappropriated were flagged
for concern last year and those cases are before the Fraud
He said, however, no parents had made any complaints
about any misappropriation of funds in any of the cases
He said so as he sought to clear the air on allegations
about the misappropriation of money from the fund. He
was speaking at a press conference at Children s Life Fund
offices, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.
According to media reports, the former CEO of the fund,
Genevieve Madoo, had raised concerns that families who
were supposed to receive money for food and travel did
not get their per diems when they travelled and of suspicious
wiring of money from different banks to pay for a liver
transplant operation at the Argentina medical institution
Foundation ETHE (Experts in Liver Transplant).
Yesterday, Furlonge said the CEO of the fund had direct
responsibility for the per diem money. He said under
Madoo, four of the suspicious cases where actually under
her purview. He added that under her tenure, which was
from March 2015 to May 2015, a female employee was also
fired as a result of suspicions into missing funds.
Furlonge reassured that a police investigation was ongoing
and if any wrong was identified it would be rectified.
On the reason for several wire transfers to Foundation
ETHE, Furlonge said that was because the institution did
not have a Caribbean account and its fees had to be sent
He read an email he received from Dr Carlos Luque, an
official at the hospital, which said: "The ETHE does not
receive funds in its account. It is simply because we do
not have it yet. We are in the process of opening one
account in the Caribbean area.
"Why the funds are sent to different bank accounts is
because we work with brokers. We cannot give our Argen-
tinian accounts because any money that enters Argentina
system it is automatically converted into Argentinian pesos
and this is a huge financial problem in case we need to
give back the money if the transplant is not done."
Addressing an excess of money sent to the ETHE account,
Furlonge said any excess money would be rolled over for
another operation instead of returning it to the Life Fund.
He said it was protocol to pay the money in advance.
Contacted yesterday, however, Madoo said Furlonge was
trying to mislead the public into believeing that families
had not complained about not receiving their funds.
She said during her tenure she received documents from
a number of families who claimed they did not even know
they were entitled to the funds and raised the issue after
she investigated the complaints and realised there were
She said there were a number of issues that perturbed
her about how the fund was being managed and as a result
she changed the old system while she was there.
Pressed further she declined to comment, saying the
matter was under a police investigation and she did not
want to compromise the case.
Ex-UTT board members suing as State's case collapses...
'It's political witch-hunt'
PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
The lawsuit arose out of a forensic audit on UTT ordered by
former attorney general Anand Ramlogan shortly after the 2010
general election. It is one of several lawsuits filed against former
board members who served under the previous PNM adminis-
tration and is the first to reach the trial stage.
UTT initiated the lawsuit in September 2012, claiming the for-
mer board had breached its fiduciary duty and failed to exercise
due diligence in the sub-leasing of the guest house from Consoli-
dated Services Ltd (CSL) for a five-year renewable lease at a
monthly rent of $50,000.
It was contending that the board failed to act on the advice of
the university's legal team, which in 2006 discovered the owner
of the property could not enter into the deal as the 150 acres of
land the property is on was derived from a lease from govern-
ment which had expired.
The directors listed in the lawsuit are former UTT president
Prof Ken Julien, Dr Rene Monteil, Ravindra Nath-Maharaj, Scott
Hilton-Clarke and Errol Pilgrim. Former director Giselle Marfleet
was initially listed in the case. However, the lawsuit was with-
drawn against her at the start of the trial last week.
In their defence the directors have claimed they were not
aware of the issue with the land when the deal was signed and
they took steps to purchase the property after it was discovered.
As a secondary issue, UTT is suing Julien for allegedly autho-
rising the temporary accommodation of the Rev Juliana Pena,
the former spiritual adviser to former prime minister Patrick
Manning, at the facility although she was not a guest of the uni-
This claim was also contested by the guest house administra-
tor, Arlene Jute, who testified last Friday that private customers
and UTT staff were charged the same rates for use of the facil-
ity.Although she did not provide financial records, Jute also
claimed that the facility was profitable to the university. This
was in direct contradiction to the UTT's main contention that the
facility had caused it a $10.4 million loss during its operations.
UTT was represented by Vincent Nelson, QC, Gerald Ramdeen
and Varun Debideen. The directors' legal team included Senior
Counsel Douglas Mendes and John Jeremie and attorneys Larry
Lalla, Kerwyn Garcia, Stuart Young and Ravi Heffes-Doon.
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