(GUARDIANTT) – Government will seek to push two pieces of legislation in the coming weeks to allow the State to recover properties and other assets from former attorney general Anand Ramlogan and UNC Senator Gerald Ramdeen.
A high-ranking insider at the Office of the Attorney General told Guardian Media that the Government intends to push the amendments to the Registration of Deeds Bill and push to have the Unexplained Wealth Orders in respect of the Civil Assets Bill proclaimed to specifically deal with the two men.
Both men were detained by officers attached to the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB) for over 70 hours between Wednesday and Friday before being charged. The two are expected to appear in court today.
Guardian Media was told that Government intends to push eight amendments to the Registration of Deeds Bill, currently before Parliament, as it will form a major part of State’s case against Ramlogan and Ramdeen.
Of the eight clauses, it is Clause 3 which will aid the Government’s case as it includes two additional indexes for contracts for the sale of land and beneficial owners, “which becomes necessary because of amendments to the Companies Act to deal with beneficial ownership”. Another sub-paragraph in the Bill would insert a number of new subsections which includes provisions to “empower the Registrar General to keep another index for all instruments of trusts which are registered under the Registration of Deeds Act”.
According to a high-level insider at the Office of the Attorney General, the index is a closed index and for the purpose of the State’s obligations under the Financial Action Task Force. Recommendations can only be accessed by the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit of T&T (the FIU) for the purpose of enabling the FIU to do its analysis under the Financial Intelligence Unit of T&T Act.
The index will also be open to an officer of the Police Service of the rank of Superintendent or above attached to the financial investigations or fraud divisions, solely for the purposes of investigating whether a criminal offence has been committed under any law.
The index is also open to the Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue and by order of the court.
Clause 4 of the bill is also relevant as it deals with properties purchased outside of the jurisdiction of T&T even if it is purchased by a company or corporation.
The Government will also be moving quickly to have the Unexplained Wealth Orders in respect of the Civil Assets Bill proclaimed which will allow the State to levy on the assets of those involved to recover money.
The high-ranking official at the Attorney General’s office told Guardian Media that the State will move to seize the assets of the two men, Ramlogan and Ramdeen, once given the go-ahead from the courts.
The State will also seek to seize other assets of both men in order to recover some of the $1.4 billion spent under the Office of the Attorney General between 2010 and 2015 in legal fees.
“The way the law works is that proceeds of crime are recoverable,” the source said.
The official of the Attorney General’s office told Guardian Media that the series of laws passed in the past year were to deal with matters just like these.
“They (Ramlogan and Ramdeen) were charged under the Proceeds of Crime Act for money laundering, if you look at Sections 44 and 45, these are very serious offences,” the source said.
The insider said that when the audit into the AG office was completed, it became “obvious” that money was mismanaged.
Guardian Media was also told that the whistle-blowing testimony by Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson included the names of at least three other lawyers who benefited from legal briefs during the time Ramlogan held office.
The insider told Guardian Media that of those three lawyers, there is enough information on one of them for the police to act.
About the case
On May 1, Anand Ramlogan was detained at the Piarco International Airport by ACIB officers at 4.15 am and taken to the office at 33 Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.
Ramdeen was told that there was a warrant out for his arrest and surrendered to officers at the same ACIB office around 7 a.m that same morning.
It was reported that the two were held in connection with information received from a whistleblower, Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson.
Nelson appeared in court on Thursday under a plea bargaining deal which will see him plead guilty to three charges and testify for the State against Ramlogan and Ramdeen.
By Friday night after more than 70 hours in custody, it was reported that both men were charged with three offences of conspiracy to receive financial rewards.
Ramlogan was placed on a $1.2 million bail, while Ramdeen was placed on a $1.5 million bail.
Critical sections of
Proceeds of Crime Act
44. (1) An offence committed under section 45 shall be known as a money laundering offence and the term “money laundering” shall be construed accordingly.
(2) The offence of money laundering is an indictable offence.
45. (1) A person who knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that property is criminal property and who—
(a) engages directly or indirectly, in a transaction that involves that criminal property; or
(b) receives, possesses, conceals, disposes of, disguises, transfers, brings into, or sends out of Trinidad and Tobago, that criminal property; or
(c) converts, transfers or removes from Trinidad and Tobago that criminal property, commits an offence of money laundering.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a financial institution or listed business knows or has grounds to suspect that the property is criminal property, if it or he fails to take reasonable steps to implement or apply procedures to control or combat money laundering in accordance with the Regulations made pursuant to section 56.
(3) Where a person is charged with an offence under this section and the Court is satisfied that the property in his possession or under his control was not acquired from income derived from a legitimate source, it shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proven, that the property is criminal property.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (3), the standard of proof required by the person referred to in that subsection, shall be that applicable in civil proceedings.