British Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson, the State’s cooperating witness in a legal fee kickback case against former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, and former opposition senator Gerald Ramdeen, has been fined $2.25 million for his role in the crime.
Although Nelson’s plea agreement with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was accepted by High Court Judge Malcolm Holdip in June, last year, he was only sentenced at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, this afternoon.
Nelson was fined $250,000 for allegedly conspiring with Ramlogan and Ramden to breach Section 3 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and $2 million for allegedly conspiring with the duo to breach Section 45 of the Proceeds of Crime Act.
In the event that Nelson fails to pay the $250,000 fine within two months, starting from the end of April, he will face three years in prison with hard labour. Nelson was also granted permission to clear the larger fine in 10 monthly installments, with the default for non-payment being set at five years in prison.
Holdip initially considered a $6,000,000 fine for the second charge but reduced it by a third because of Nelson’s guilty plea and another third based on the level of cooperation Nelson provided to the T&T Police Service (TTPS) during its investigation.
Holdip also placed Nelson on a $250,000 bond to keep the peace for three years.
The charges against Nelson, Ramlogan, and Ramdeen arose out of an investigation into almost $1 billion in legal fees which was paid to private legal practitioners, who represented the State and State companies in legal proceedings during Ramlogan’s tenure between 2010 and 2015.
The lawsuits included several over alleged corruption which occurred under the previous Patrick Manning regime.
The trio are accused of conspiring together to receive, conceal and transfer criminal property namely the rewards given to Ramlogan by Nelson for being appointed to represent the State in several cases; of conspiring together to corruptly give Ramlogan a percentage of the funds and of conspiring with to make Ramlogan misbehave in public office by receiving the funds.
Of the nine major cases, Nelson was retained by the State in, only four involving Petrotrin, the Evolving Technologies and Enterprise Development Company (eTecK), the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott), and University of T&T (UTT) are related to the charges. Nelson was paid approximately $30 million for the four legal briefs.
As part of his plea agreement, the misbehaviour in public office charge was dropped in exchange for his guilty pleas for the others and his eventual testimony in the case against Ramlogan and Ramdeen.
Ramdeen and Ramlogan are expected to reappear in court on April 28 for the continuation of their case.
Reporter: Derek Achong