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Trinidad fines lawyer TT$2.25m


Trinidad fines lawyer TT$2.25m

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PORT OF SPAIN – A High Court judge Monday imposed a fine of TT$2.25 million on the Jamaican-born Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson for his role in an alleged conspiracy involving former attorney general Anand Ramlogan and an opposition legislator.

On June 6 last year, Nelson pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering, misbehaviour in public office and conspiracy to commit an act of corruption after Justice Malcom Holdip accepted a plea agreement between Nelson and the state.

The misbehaviour charge was discontinued by the Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP) Roger Gaspard, in keeping with the plea agreement.

The judge Monday also agreed not to impose a custodial sentence on the attorney, but he warned potential fraudsters that they should not feel emboldened by this case that they can carry out fraud and quickly pay restitution.

During the three-and-a-half hour sentencing hearing, Justice Holdip also put Jones, who is said to be receiving medical treatment in Britain, on a TT$250 000 bond for two years. He has been given time to pay the fines and there are default prison terms attached if he fails to do so.

The charges against Jones arose out of a series of financial transactions and alleged rewards involving legal fees paid to him for representation in state briefs. The briefs were allegedly obtained while Ramlogan was attorney general.

Nelson has agreed to turn state witness and testify against Ramlogan and former opposition legislator, Gerald Ramdeen, and his statements have been disclosed to both men.

Ramlogan and Ramdeen have been released on bail totalling TT$2.7 million after being jointly charged with conspiracy to contravene Section 3 of the Prevention of Corruption Act; conspiracy to contravene Section 45 of the Proceeds of Crime Act and conspiracy to misbehave in public office.

They are to return to court on April 28 and court observers said the date is likely to be brought forward since the prosecution has the option of bypassing the preliminary inquiry and filing indictments in the High Court.

Since his first appearance in court last year, Nelson was granted TT$100 000 bail and was given permission to leave the country, returning for the hearing of his case, after he expressed fears for his safety and because of his health condition.

He is expected to return to Trinidad to give evidence against the two former legislators.