The sentencing of 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 once again been postponed.
British Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson was expected to be sentenced by High Court Judge Malcolm Holdip during a hearing at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, yesterday afternoon. Instead, the case was adjourned to 11 am on Monday.
A similar situation occurred as Nelson was due to be sentenced on January 23.
When the case was called before Holdip yesterday afternoon, Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, and Nelson’s legal team spent more than an hour making legal submissions in private.
Members of the media have been barred from all hearings as Gaspard had applied under the Criminal Procedure (Plea Discussion and Plea Agreement) Act for them to be heard in-camera. Nelson’s actual sentencing hearing is expected to be held in open court.
Since Holdip has already approved the plea deal, which has been sealed by the court, he will now have to decide if he also accepts the suggested sentence agreed upon by the DPP’s Office and Nelson’s attorneys.
In the event that Holdip believes the suggested sentence is disproportionate, based on the circumstances of the case, he may substitute another which he thinks is more appropriate.
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.
Ramdeen and Ramlogan are expected to reappear in court on April 28 for the continuation of their case.
The DPP’s Office is also being represented by Edward Jenkins, QC, and Mauricia Joseph, while Tom Allen, QC, and Roger Kawalsingh.
Born in Jamaica, Nelson was called to the bar in the United Kingdom in 1980 and took silk in 2001.
In August 2010, Nelson was appointed to a five-member team selected by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan to investigate alleged impropriety on State boards during the Patrick Manning administration.
Among the cases he worked on was Petrotrin’s controversial lawsuit against its former executive chairman Malcolm Jones over a failed gas-to-liquids plant at the now-defunct company’s refinery operation in Pointe-a-Pierre.
In early 2016, Nelson advised the then board that the case had to be withdrawn as documents from the arbitration, which Jones’ legal team sought, showed that the deal was a bad business decision and not negligence.