Aug 16, 2016 News
Attorney General Basil Williams, speaking at a press conference yesterday, said that the large
court judgements (settlements) that the APNU/AFC government inherited from the previous government are “a burden on this nation, it’s a burden on the taxpayers and people of this nation; the last government was a disreputable government.”
He went on to express amazement at the opposition’s encouragement of settlements during their time, while now questioning the government’s payments of those settlements.
The AG further pointed to another large judgement by the courts that was awarded to Trinidadian contractor Emile Elias. He said that had the previous government “exercised proper judgement”, the settlement would not have “ballooned into such a large amount’’.
He noted that his predecessor Anil Nandlall’s insistence of prolonging the matter and taking it to higher courts such as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) led to the build-up of interest which took the judgement sum to almost $7 billion dollars.
Williams questioned; “Why didn’t they pay that judgement? That judgement was in their time.” He warned the media about condoning the mistakes of the previous government and visiting them upon the current administration.
“We have nothing to do with those judgements, they should have paid the judgements; they conducted the cases.” He pointed out that in the Rudisa Beverages case, the then AG, Anil Nandlall, failed to produce any evidence in the CCJ.
The Attorney General said that the former AG’s actions “opened the gates” for other companies to sue the government, and he made mention of SM Jaleel’s case against the government. He vowed to “vigorously defend those cases.”
“The PPP must hold full responsibility for all those cases and the large judgements that were racked up…including Dipcon.”
“I don’t know how I could be fixed with responsibility for Dipcon, which was a matter started under them (PPP).”
He highlighted that it was a matter that was not in the AG’s Chambers. He explained that Nandlall had reportedly put the Dipcon case into the hands of a private practitioner, hence his (Williams) ignorance of the Dipcon judgement.
Williams pointed out that he only discovered about the Dipcon court judgement in Parliament when former President Bharrat Jagdeo pointed out that a large judgement was given under Williams’ tenure as AG.
Williams said that upon discovery of the Dipcon matter, he issued directives for an appeal to be filed. He noted that the appeal is currently pending before the Court of Appeal. He explained that it is an appeal for extension of time on behalf of the government.
He expressed confidence that the case will be successfully appealed. According to Williams, the Dipcon case “falls squarely at the feet of the PPP.”
The AG labelled the PPP’s call for the judgements of the court to be ignored by the coalition government as “disrespect and disregard for the rule of the law.”
He further pointed out that “it was a very corrupt regime we inherited the government from. We are fixing and cleaning up the mess that they have left and we will insist that the rule of law must exist in this country”.
“We know they are afraid of SARA (State Asset Recovery Agency) but as people would say; ‘If you do nothing, you fear nothing’.”
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