Roberto Pocaterra Pocaterra – Turmero//
$1.4B for legal briefs between 2010-15

roberto pocaterra pocaterra venezuela
roberto pocaterra pocaterra
roberto pocaterra
$1.4B for legal briefs between 2010-15

Gail Alexan­der

$1.4 bil­lion—ex­clud­ing ar­rears. That’s the over­all fig­ure up to 2015 which was shelled out for pay­ment of le­gal briefs from the State over the last term.

Roberto Pocaterra Pocaterra

The fig­ures were con­firmed by Gov­ern­ment sources. And those were the fig­ures which prompt­ed PNM At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi to launch an au­dit of his min­istry. The PNM while in Op­po­si­tion had pre­sent­ed ques­tions to the then PP ad­min­is­tra­tion on le­gal fees which were be­ing paid. The mat­ter was fol­lowed up when the PNM as­sumed of­fice

In 2017, Al-Rawi said the au­dit pri­mar­i­ly fo­cused on the “val­ue for mon­ey” prin­ci­ple re­gard­ing the hir­ing of state at­tor­neys. He had cit­ed an ap­prox­i­mate $1 bil­lion-plus pay­ment lev­el for State briefs in the last term. The AG’s of­fice was left in debt to the tune of $200m, it was al­so not­ed

Al-Rawi was al­so re­port­ed say­ing UNC Sen­a­tor Ger­ald Ramdeen and then Op­po­si­tion sen­a­tor Wayne Sturge—who was lat­er shift­ed from Sen­ate—had “amassed” a bill of State briefs from the AG’s of­fice dur­ing the last ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tenure.

Roberto Pocaterra Pocaterra

At that time Prime Min­is­ter Kei­th Row­ley said Ramdeen was a “per­son of great in­ter­est” to the State in the con­text of an on­go­ing au­dit by the AG’s of­fice

Last week a list was cir­cu­lat­ed on so­cial me­dia of some at­tor­neys who re­ceived fees and the amounts. Of­fi­cial sources said it wasn’t ac­cu­rate. Sun­day Guardian was in­formed, of­fi­cial spread-sheet­ed fig­ures for some pay­ments up to 2015 ranged from a high of $58.1m to a low of $1.3 m

Last Fri­day sev­er­al at­tor­neys con­tact­ed, de­clined com­ment

Apart from debts left in the AG’s min­istry, there were oth­er debts to state en­ter­pris­es and oth­er min­istries “and ac­tions are go­ing on in oth­er ju­ris­dic­tions al­so”

Le­gal briefs in Cli­co’s COE

One av­enue via which at­tor­neys al­so re­ceived work and fees in the last term was the Com­mis­sion of En­quiry (COE) in­to the 2009 Cli­co/Hin­du Cred­it Union col­lapse

COE costs were paid by the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice, but at­tor­neys were ap­point­ed by the AG’s min­istry, sources said

The COE over 2011-2013 in­volved 77 lawyers, 23 par­ties, 57 wit­ness­es, and five mil­lion pages of doc­u­ments. COE chair­man Sir An­tho­ny Col­man’s re­port, pre­sent­ed in 2016, was passed to the Di­rec­tor Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions—with whom it still re­sides. It is es­ti­mat­ed the COE cost ap­prox­i­mate­ly $100m

In Par­lia­ment in 2016 Row­ley said as at May 2016, to­tal costs of the com­mis­sion­er and the at­tor­neys who were re­tained to as­sist the Com­mis­sion was $78.4m

He gave the fee break­down at May 2016 as Shankar Bidaisee ($7.1m); Ger­ald Ramdeen ($5.8m); Varun De­bideen ($4.9m); Ce­leste Jules ($2.1m); Is­rael Khan SC ($989,000); Wayne Sturge ($567,600); Lemuel Mur­phy ($250,000); Sir An­tho­ny Col­man QC ($9.1m); Pe­ter Carter QC ($23.3m); In­ter­na­tion­al Ltd ($2.7m); Ed­win Glas­gow QC ($12.1m); Ian Mar­shall ($827,239.73),; Mar­i­on Smith Mc­Gre­gor QC ($8.3m)

Col­man in 2016 had writ­ten to the Pres­i­dent rais­ing con­cerns that “of the three lo­cal at­tor­neys, two proved to be so in­com­pe­tent, in­ex­pe­ri­enced and lack­ing in any sense of pro­fes­sion­al re­spon­si­bil­i­ty that they be­came un­avail­able or on­ly par­tial­ly avail­able”

The AG’s min­istry was re­port­ed in 2016 as cal­cu­lat­ing the num­ber of ap­pear­an­ces by each at­tor­ney, bill­able hours, and rate of pay­ment


PSC nom­i­nee got Cli­co en­quiry briefs

Among at­tor­neys who worked on the Cli­co en­quiry was Roger Kawals­ingh, re­cent­ly nom­i­nat­ed for the Po­lice Ser­vice Com­mis­sion

In 2017 he al­so won a case against the State for now em­bat­tled QC Vin­cent Nel­son, who was charged last week

In Par­lia­ment in 2013 then AG Anand Ram­lo­gan, speak­ing about le­gal fees paid to at­tor­neys for state work, said Kawals­ingh was en­gaged by the Fi­nance Min­istry with four oth­er at­tor­neys for work on the Cli­co/HCU Com­mis­sion of En­quiry. Last Fri­day a spokesman for Kawals­ingh said he re­ceived four briefs, well un­der “big mil­lions fig­ures”

San Fer­nan­do-based Kawals­ingh was nom­i­nat­ed in Par­lia­ment on April 22 to be­come a PSC mem­ber fol­low­ing a nom­i­na­tion from the Pres­i­dent. That’s to be de­bat­ed. PSC chair­man Bliss Seep­er­sad briefly said last Fri­day, “The nom­i­na­tion’s be­fore Par­lia­ment.”

Kawals­ingh suc­cess­ful­ly rep­re­sent­ed Nel­son against the State in 2017. News­day re­port­ed Nel­son had sued the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al for $10 mil­lion in un­paid le­gal fees. Nel­son had been re­tained to rep­re­sent the Board of In­land Rev­enue in var­i­ous tax ap­peals against bpTT

The State ar­gued that the Le­gal Pro­fes­sion Act on­ly gave at­tor­neys pow­er to sue their clients for un­paid fees where fees in­voiced were in­de­pen­dent­ly as­sessed by a High Court Mas­ter or Reg­is­trar. It was re­port­ed that Nel­son’s bill wasn’t as­sessed “as it fell un­der a £1.5 mil­lion re­tain­er con­tract agreed be­tween him and the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al’s of­fice un­der the tenure of for­mer AG Anand Ram­lo­gan in No­vem­ber 2014”

Jus­tice Ricky Rahim dis­missed the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al’s ap­pli­ca­tion to strike out Nel­son’s law­suit. Rahim said the AG’s of­fice failed to prove Nel­son lacked ba­sis for the claim and it was an abuse of process. Rahim said the in­tro­duc­tion of the Civ­il Pro­ceed­ings Rules (1998) made the re­quire­ments un­der the LPA un­nec­es­sary. Rahim said is­sues raised in Nel­son’s law­suit should go to tri­al. The State had ar­gued that Nel­son breached his re­tain­er con­tract. Ad­di­tion­al time was giv­en for the State to file de­fence. Kawals­ingh de­clined to com­ment on the mat­ters