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Devant vs Ramesh and Jeremie: Battle of the legal fees

The following correspondence was emailed to the media today by Minister of Food Production Devant Maharaj and former Attorney Generals Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC and John Jeremie SC in relation to the $408 million spent on legal fees by recently departed People’s Partnership Attorney General Anand Ramlogan:

Photo: Minister of Food Production Devant Maharaj. (Courtesy i95.5fm)
Photo: Minister of Food Production Devant Maharaj.
(Courtesy i95.5fm)

When the PNM was in power, I was the President of the local chapter of the Global Organisation for People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) and an executive member of the largest and most powerful Hindu organisation, the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sahha.

I received numerous complaints of victimization and discrimination from members and was forced to take legal action on their behalf. I paid a dear price for this and, as the pressure mounted at the NLCB, I was forced to seek protection from the courts personally.

Together with Chandresh Sharma, I filed many cases under the Freedom of Information Act and under the constitution for breach of the right to equality of treatment. In all these cases, external lawyers were retained by the state. It was clear that the work went to a small handful of PNM lawyers. It is a matter of public record that Anand Ramlogan fought and won all these landmark discrimination cases on our behalf.

Strangely, there were no complaints back then. No one complained when the brother and husband of the Minister of Legal Affairs were being retained. And no one complained about their fees regardless of how high they were.

Apparently, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj had lost his voice then and he appears to have now lost his memory. He is the latest attack dog and poster boy for the PNM and Rowley’s new tag-team partner.

Photo: Former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. (Courtesy Baltimore Post Examiner)
Photo: Former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
(Courtesy Baltimore Post Examiner)

AG Nicholas has explained the human administrative error that led to the duplication in legal fees paid to some Attorneys. That has been clarified but Ramesh and Jeremie is calling for a police probe. In the interest of fairness, I intend to write the Commissioner of Police to demand a similar police investigation into the retainer of lawyers by Ramesh and Jeremie when they served as AG. I would be asking the police to investigate the following:

(Maharaj)

  • The millions of dollars in legal work Ramesh’s ex-law firm (which was run by his wife Lynette Maharaj SC) received from the state sector when he was AG
  • The number of matters settled by the state/ state sector in which Ramesh’s ex-firm was involved while he was AG
  • The high legal fees charged by the British Queens Counsel whom he frequently retained and whether any of them did work for his ex-law firm whilst he was AG

(Jeremie)

  • The millions of dollars Jeremie’s ex-law firm received in legal work from the state sector while he was AG
  • The external retainer of the Minister of Legal Affair’s husband (Kerwin Garcia) and brother (Collin Kangaloo) and the amount of money paid to them and whether this was disclosed to the Integrity Commission
  • The exorbitant fees paid to a small handful of lawyers who were invariably retained to represent the AG including Stuart Young and Michael Quamina, Ian Benjamin, Reginald Armourer SC and Douglas Mendes SC.
  • Whether his vehicle was purchased by one of these very lawyers to whom he gave lucrative legal work
  • Whether any of these lawyers did work for his ex-firm while he was AG and was briefing them on behalf of the State
  • The high legal fees paid out in the Sat Sharma and Basdeo Panday fiascos.
  • The legal fees charged by Jeremie to the THA and POS City Corporation for legal work in the last 5 years
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. (Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)

AG Nicholas has said the external lawyers retained by the state have been successful in 95% of the cases they fought. Under the PNM, this figure is probably reversed. I certainly won 95% of the cases I filed against the external lawyers Jeremie and Louis Lee Sing retained. The attack on the lawyers and Anand Ramlogan by Ramesh and Jeremie is malicious and politically biased.

In the document laid in parliament, Stuart Young is listed as billing $440,883.30 in one case. Not a beep from Ramesh and Jeremie.

The discussion on legal fees is biased. Fair and informed commentary must involve a discussion on the value of the claims against the state, the success rate of the attorneys retained, the amount of legal costs awarded in the favour of the state and the amount of money recovered. Ramlogan has spent millions to recover billions from PNM officials and Ramesh is a PNM political distraction with no credibility.

Devant Maharaj

Minister of Food Production

Former President GOPIO

Former President ITEC

Executive Member SDMS

Photo: Former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj. (Courtesy Digiplanet)
Photo: Former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.
(Courtesy Digiplanet)

We have noted the predictable attempts by a Government minister and close associate of the former Attorney General Mr Ramlogan to belatedly seek to rehash old allegations made against us and to seek to divert the attention of the public from the half a billion dollar spending spree in the office of the Attorney General over the past four years.

While we welcome police attention we should like to remind the public that these predictable attacks have been raised and investigated before.

The spending patterns in the office of the Attorney General over the past four years have not been investigated before and we reiterate our position that there is now sufficient information in the public domain to suggest that this should be done immediately.

In the case of Mr Lawrence Maharaj SC an allegation was made by Mrs Persad Bissessar after he demitted office that he had broken the law by hiring a Forensic Specialist through the AGs office to probe allegations of wrongdoing and that the firm from which he had resigned did legal work for State Enterprises after he became Attorney General.

In the case of Mr Jeremie a formal complaint was made by Mr Devant Maharaj himself to the Integrity Commission that during the tenure of Mr Jeremie as Attorney General the law firm from which he had resigned did legal work for State Enterprises.

The allegation against Mr Lawrence Maharaj was investigated by the police and the then Director of Public Prosecutions dismissed the complaint.

In the case of Mr Jeremie the Integrity Commission to whom Mr Devant Maharaj had complained dismissed the complaint after a thorough investigation.

Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC

John Jeremie SC

19th April 2015.

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28 comments

  1. It’s call box drain and key house politics. Water for all and pipe laying politics if you haven’t understand it then you people very gullible.

  2. it seems that the only reason why Devant Maharaj is in cabinet is to remind us about what people voted out.. and regret.

  3. They still talking about the past govt. Anything to cover their assess.

  4. He is an idiot ! Why even give him a thought.

  5. ..This Guy ( Devant ) , had always trained his contributions , on the ILLS of the Past Government . Very seldom , will he remember – They are in GOVNT – Solve the Problem .SOLVE the issues at hand …. …Well , He chose the correct person to adventure on . … He STILL respond – I Will Spend More TAX Moneys , By Investigating Past Cases ,…

  6. This Gov’t fight is between Almighty God and Anand Ramlogan and Kamla Lead Cabinet is already the victim ,no Priest nor Pundit or any one can help.

  7. This PP Gov’t will continue to be embarrassed because God has decided to deal with the disgrace Ex AG Anand Ramlogan, and it will no stop until Cod has his way ,and any body who believe they can do and say what Anand say about God I challenge them ,he need to sincerely Repent, dust of his arrogance, apologize ,to move on because he will take the entire Cabinet out, be warned
    God is no ,Respector of Person .

  8. The fact that people killed before does NOT make it legal to kill

  9. Which is no more than an effort to confuse their base. Devant is saying that the right response to concerns over the last AG is to probe two former AGs–including one who held office almost two decades ago.
    He can think reasonable people will see logic in that.
    And the thing about the success rate?
    He might as well bill us $500 for a bottle of water and then say: But didn’t it satisfy your thirst?

  10. That’s right Lasana.
    What makes coming to some consensus on the integrity, morality and efficiency of our ruling parties is thr fact that Trinidadians go about politics the way the Palestinians and Israelis go about their piece process…………always in the context of tit for tat

  11. A probe into legal briefs would have wider scope than a probe into legal fees

  12. It is the typical PP response: “The PNM did it too.”
    Five years in office and they are still campaigning against Patrick Manning. And now they are adding Basdeo Panday’s Ministers to the list.

  13. I am glad Devant was able to get assistance under the Freedom of Information Act, because is it clearly not the case NOW.

  14. If everything is above board , welcome the investigation and this would vindicate your party et al , also more ammunition for the Election Campaign . Come on Devant , what’s the problem ??

  15. And ppl still defending this undefendable gov’t, sham shame shame

  16. Again they defend the present with the past….Every time they at fault they point backwards to Patrick Manning and his administration…Inept !!! SMFH

    • Apparently they did not get the memo that the PNM was voted out and they are the ones who have to accountable now to the people .

    • I agree… this current administration can’t seem to understand that they are the ones responsible now, irrespective of who did what before!

      Having said that, it is not the most palatable thing to see people hurling accusations at others when during their own tenure it appears that they were not as above board as they ought to have been.

      That has not and will never escape those of us who are clamouring for balance and fairness in our country’s affairs.

  17. it appears that Anand Ramlogan is still controlling Kamla and the govt.
    Kamla has sought to distract away from his alleged criminal activity by dragging down Gary Griffith with him, calling for the dismissal of David West and bringing a motion of no confidence against Dr. Rowley for not telling her that West was a witness in the defamation case.
    Now, Ramlogan is looking to fight back in respect of the obscene amount of legal fees paid out by his office, by getting his partner, Deviant Maraj, to attack Lawrence Maraj and John Jeremie.
    I feel pretty certain that Ramlogan is feeding the information to Deviant and calling all the shots from behind the scenes.

  18. Drowning men grasping at straws……. the PPship is sinking

  19. I feel people will be watching Deviant with slitted eyelids over this letter he wrote. Especially as both former AGs have already undergone investigations. But does he really want to bring up Integrity Commission allegations in an atmosphere where several of his colleagues have cocoa in the sun? Including himself?

  20. He not only has family members which run a school board, he is also in the PPG as a cabinet minister, which is a CLEAR example of a conflict of interest that doesn’t seem to bother the average PPG cheerleader. If PNM did THAT we would have heard of how corrupt that is.

  21. The same Deviant whose family owns a radio station that operates in an SDMS school…. the same one….. .

  22. Which Deviant is this, the one who was taken to court for a comment he allegedly made at an NLCB official dinner, where he was overheard saying they should bomb and kill all Muslims? The same Deviant who has on numerous occassions degraded and disrespected people of African and mixed origin, the same Deviant who has significantly contributed to the increased level of intolerance in our society? Is the UNC that desperate that the most hated man or at least one of the 5 most hated men in T&T, seems to now be their official mouth piece? Things REAL BAD in that camp boy.