During the consideration of the 2017 estimates of revenue and expenditure for the Ministry of Legal Affairs this week, it was announced that special prosecutors will be employed by the government to go after state assets.
The subject Minister and Attorney General Basil Williams, made this known while being questioned to explain the expenditure stated in line item 6284 under the heading “Other Goods and Services Purchased” for programme 523 – Attorney General’s Chambers.
For 2017, there is an allocation of $202M, according to the Minister; the sum caters for legal fees, the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce conference, law school payments, consultations, State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) sensitization and commission of inquiry payments.
Williams was further probed to provide the House with information as to who are the lawyers being employed by the Ministry.
He said, “The sum of $109M has been budgeted for legal fees; CFATF Conference, $50M; Law School Payments, $18M; consultations, $5M; SARA sensitization, $10M; Commission of Inquiry, $10M.”
As it relates to legal fees, Member of Parliament, Anil Nandlall, asked to be briefed on what areas of law will be dealt with by the lawyers to be hired outside of the AG’s Chambers. Williams said that the parties will be identified when the right time comes.
Drawing attention to the law books which the former Attorney-General allegedly purchased for himself with state funds, Williams said that his government is very serious about recovering those law books. He said that some of the $202M will be used to pay special prosecutors.
“Part of that money will be going to special prosecutors to deal with the recovery of state assets that public officers acquired, and we are very serious about that.”
Last November of this year Williams had said that there was nothing wrong in using special prosecutors to handle high profile matters. These prosecutors are said to be used in the Pradoville Two and Cricket World Cup cases.
He had given as justification that persons could be identified from the Director of Public Prosecution’s Department but said that some of the staff had indicated their unwillingness to prosecute matters which have a political undertone.
However, the Director of Public Prosecution, Shalimar Ali-Hack, debunked the AG’s claim saying that no prosecutor has ever indicated unwillingness in doing their job as it relates to highly political cases.
She said that in the case of former Minister Jennifer Westford, two lawyers from her office, Senior State Counsel, Teshana Lake, and State Counsel, Natasha Backer, are prosecuting that matter.
According to Williams, the allocation will serve to improve the Ministry’s capacity to handle the recovery of state assets which were appropriated by public officials.
Apr 06, 2020By Zaheer Mohamed Port Kaituma Football Foundation (PKFF) is one of the leading sports organisations in Region One. The body was formed in 2009 with the aim of developing sports in the area. Its...
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