Jamaica-born attorney convicted in corruption scheme in Trinidad files compensation suit

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

Convicted Jamaica-born attorney, Vincent Nelson, is seeking TT$96 million in his civil claim against the Government for compensation for an alleged breach of an indemnity agreement to protect him from prosecution.

Nelson filed the claim alleging breach of an indemnity agreement with the Trinidad and Tobago government to protect him from criminal prosecution and possible proceedings outside Trinidad and Tobago in exchange for a statement alleging a legal-fees kickback scheme with former attorney general Anand Ramlogan SC and former opposition legislator and attorney, Gerald Ramdeen.

Ramlogan was accused of receiving payments from Nelson after the Office of the Attorney General awarded him a number of state briefs, while Ramdeen was alleged to have facilitated the payments from Nelson to Ramlogan.

Nelson was convicted in 2019 and sentenced in March 2020 on charges of conspiracy to commit an act of corruption and money laundering.

Nelson was fined TT$250,000 and was given two months, starting at the end of April 2020, in which to pay or serve three years of hard labour.

On the money-laundering charge, he was fined $2 million, which was to be paid in 10 instalments or serve five years imprisonment at hard labour.

He was also put on a TT$250,000 bond for three years.

Nelson is yet to pay any of the fines and has asked that the State indemnify him.

Justice Jacqueline Wilson is presiding over the two-day civil trial that is being held both virtually and in-person and in camera.

“Please be advised that Her Ladyship has directed that in February 2022, the claimant sought and obtained an order that ‘all proceedings in this matter be conducted in camera and that public access to same be restricted.

“As that order has not been varied or discharged, public access to the proceedings is restricted at this time,” the media was informed.

On February 9, 2022, Justice Wilson ordered the sealing of the case from public access.

It was also not to be made a matter of public record.

All documents filed were also ordered sealed.

The judge’s order came after Nelson’s then attorney Keisha Kydd-Hannibal applied to have the matter sealed.

On October 11, 2022, a day after Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, discontinued the criminal case against Ramlogan and Ramdeen, Nelson’s new attorneys sought to have the file unsealed.

However, the State strenuously resisted the application, citing “extensive and sustained public debate” on the matter and the DPP’s position that his office had the option to reinstate charges.

The reason for the discontinuance was Nelson’s unwillingness to testify against Ramlogan and Ramdeen until his civil case had ended.

In response to Nelson’s claim, the attorney general also filed a counter-claim seeking to have every cent paid to him returned to the State.

A civil claim against Ramlogan and Ramdeen also seeks the same repayment.

At least two government ministers – former attorney general Faris Al-Rawi and Energy Minister Stuart Young – as well as a United Kingdom expert on professional conduct and disciplinary matters involving attorneys are expected to testify for the state during the trial.

Nelson, who has appealed his conviction and fines, is expected to testify virtually.

The appeal will be heard in March.

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