Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 11th 2016 Contents A6
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Former Housing Development Corpo-
ration (HDC) managing director Jearlean
John is calling on Attorney General Faris
Al-Rawi to remove the seal on a multi-mil-
lion dollar corruption lawsuit filed against
her and eight others last week.
Speaking at a press conference at the Hyatt
Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain yesterday,
one week after Al-Rawi and Prime Minister
Dr Keith Rowley announced the lawsuit at
a post-Cabinet press conference, John and
her attorney Gerald Ramdeen said that the
people sued should be given an opportunity
to know the allegations in the lawsuit which
can potentially damage their personal and
"The Attorney General, who is the guardian
of justice, has not granted my client the basic
fundamental right to know the allegations
being made against you. This goes against
the fundamental principles of natural justice,"
Ramdeen stated while Al-Rawi and Rowley
did not reveal the names of the parties in
the lawsuit and the nature of the claim, he
was able to learn the name of the defendants
from the High Court Registry before the case
file was sealed, last Friday.
He said based on the information he
received, he and his client strongly believed
the lawsuit was based on the HDC s purchase
of a 20 hectares of land at Calcutta Settlement
Road No 2 in Freeport in 2012.
Ramdeen and John presented media per-
sonnel with a large legal bundle related to
the acquisition of the land which they said
proved that there was no wrongdoing on
John s part.
Jearlean calls out AG on...
HDC lawsuit over $175m land deal According to the official HDC documents in the
bundle, in November 2011, the HDC board decided to
purchase the land to construct a housing
development. The company selling the property had
a $200 million asking price, leading the HDC to seek
two valuations, one from a private company and the
other from the Commissioner of Valuations.
While the private company valued the land at $52
million, the Commissioner of Valuations later said
this was "grossly undervalued" as his office
estimated the value at $180 million. The final price
paid was eventually $175 million.
'All will be revealed'
Responding to Ramdeen and John at the post-
Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the Prime
Minister, St Clair, yesterday, Minister in the Ministry
of the Attorney General and Minister in the Office of
the Prime Minister, Stuart Young, said that
Government had four months from the date it filed
the case to serve the documents on the defendants.
"These proceedings have not been served and
there is no procedure in which to force this to
happen. I guarantee and give the assurance to the
population of T&T that there is very good reason
why there has not been service of those documents
as yet and why those documents have not been
made public as yet," Young said.
"Why is Miss John so anxious? I think that is the
question we should ask. The AG released no
document whatsoever. I think everyone should just
allow the procedure to take place," he added.
The five T&T nationals still in
Venezuelan custody should be back home
in "short order" once a meeting between
T&T officials and Venezuelan authorities
takes place and new T&T passports are
issued for some of the men, says Foreign
Affairs Minister Dennis Moses.
He spoke about the status of the group
at yesterday s weekly post-Cabinet press
briefing, hinting the men could return
well before year-end.
Moses said the five had been scheduled
to return home either today or Monday
but the meeting between both sets of
authorities which was due to take place
on Wednesday, did not occur.
The five --- Dominic Pitilal, Wade
Charles, Asim Luqman, Andre Battersby
and Leslie Daisely---were arrested in
Venezuela in March 2014 on terrorism
activity charges. At a May meeting
between T&T and Venezuelan leaders Gov-
ernment requested the matter be expe-
The charges were later changed to inten-
tion to commit espionage and to commit
a criminal act. The men were found guilty
and sentenced to time already served but
remained in Venezuela to date.
Moses revealed the charges of which
they were found guilty stemmed from the
fact the men were arrested at a facility
used by Venezuelan police for training.
They were also charged with non-gang
He said passports of three had lapsed
and they required new travel documents
to return home. Moses said the scheduled
meeting had been between T&T officials
in Caracas and Venezuelan intelligence
and immigration authorities. No reason
was given why it didn t occur, he said.
He added Government was hopeful the
meeting would be held and "that will allow
issuance of travel documents."
Moses said "no sooner" than the meet-
ing was held and "concretised," T&T
would be able to issue the passports and
"in short order" they could return.
Asked what would happen when the
men return, Minister in the Office of the
Prime Minister, Stuart Young, said the
Ministries of the Attorney General and
National Security were handling the matter
with Foreign Affairs.
He said there were national security
"protocols" in place concerning the return
of people from overseas under certain cir-
cumstances who would be debriefed.
He said legal officers and National Secu-
rity officers have been briefed on the mat-
ter. When the Venezuelan authorities
return them to T&T, "we ll deal with them
as they arrive."
Five detained Trinis home by year-end
Former managing director of the HDC, Jearlean John, during a press conference at the
Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. At right is John's attorney Gerald Ramdeen, an
Opposition Senator. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
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