Oct 24, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – Attorney-at-law, Patrice Henry, is suing the office of the Attorney General (AG) for millions of dollars worth of outstanding fees owed to him for special prosecuting and other legal services he offered the State.
According to a statement claim released to the media yesterday, Henry is asking the Court to grant orders to compensate him for the loss and damages he suffered as result of an agreement he had with the former Attorney General (AG), Basil Williams.
The document stipulates that Henry is requesting special damages to the tune of over $6.4M and general damages for in excess of $100,000.
He wants the Court to grant an order that he be permitted to complete the remaining four matters with full payments including the outstanding retainer attendance fees and legal services generally.
The claimant (Henry) is also seeking an order that he be paid at the hourly rate of $20,000 pursuant to the written and oral agreements for the remaining matters together with the retainer fee of $1.5M each save and except two matters – which he had already received payment for.
The lawyer is also asking that interest be calculated at a monetary judgment at six percent from the time of filing up until judgment and at four percent from the date of the judgment until it is fully paid.
The lawyer noted in the document however that he is willing to withdraw the legal proceeding against the AG providing that the sum of $7.5M is paid to him.
According to the details of the lawsuit, Henry claims that his more than two decades of experience as a prosecutor led the former AG to hire him as a special prosecutor for several high profile criminal matters in respect to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism offences, other financial crimes and matters.
Apart from providing prosecuting services, Henry claimed that he was also contracted to provide the AG with legal advice and to appear in Court on behalf of the State.
He noted that the agreement was filed between him and Williams on June 21, 2017 for matters primarily investigated by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), a department of the Guyana Police Force tasked with investigating and instituting criminal charges for financial offences, including Anti-Money Laundering (AML) offences.
Henry noted that he was among several other prosecutors similarly appointed by the AG; these included Michael Sommersaul, Hewley Griffith, Lawrence Harris and Trenton Lake.
The lawyer explained that at the initial stage of his contract he was paid a retainer fee of $2M and commenced working in the matters relating to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).
The lawyer said that among the matters he worked on were: the one involving former Permanent Secretary of the Office of the President Omar Sharief and others over a failure to comply with production order in keeping with the AML Act; the matter of Madanlall Ramraj and Jagnarine Singh former GRDB General Manger and Deputy General Manager who were charged for fraudulent appropriation of property and the matter of Bibi Khan and others who were charged for exporting gold without a license
Further, the lawyer noted that he was also engaged in the prosecution of the matter against the current Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, who was charged with larceny; former GRDB official Peter Ramcharan for falsification of accounts, and fraudulent appropriation of property and keeping false accounts; Former Head of National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited, Winston Brassington, former Finance Minister Ashni Singh and Irfaan Ali in his capacity as former Minister of Housing who had several fraud charges.
Henry said that while he was paid for his services in some of the matters, he is suing for the balance owing to a refusal by Williams, the then AG, to pay him his dues despite several reminders and requests.
However, current AG and Minster of legal Affairs, Nandlall, released a response which accompanied the lawsuit.
In his response, the AG noted that under Article 187 of the Constitution it is the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that is vested with the exclusive authority to institute, or advise the institution of, or prosecute or advise the prosecution of criminal charges. The Executive, more specifically, the Attorney Ggeneral has no such power or authority.
He stressed however that “During the last Administration a number of politically directed charges were filed against People’s Progressive Party (PPP) leaders. Special Prosecutors were, specifically, retained and directed by Attorney General, Basil Williams.”
“This,” Nandlall said, “constitutes a violation of Article 187 of the Constitution, as well as an abrogation of the Doctrine of Separation of Powers.”
“There is no greater evidence of political interference in the criminal justice system than what is expressed in the attached legal proceedings,” he stated.
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