Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, has finally broken his silence on his disqualification by a Miami court from representing this country in a civil matter directly tied to the Piarco International Airport fraud case, stating there was no attempt on his part to mislead the court in any way.
Armour also insisted: “I did not get an opportunity to correct my affidavit because the judge made the order before I had a chance to do so,” and “there was nothing to be gained by downplaying” his involvement in Brian Kuei Tung’s case.
In a full-page advertisement in the print media, Armour sought to explain what led to his disqualification from the case, following two weeks of persistent calls from different quarters—including Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for him to be fired by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
Persad-Bissessar stated that the United States authorities should investigate whether the AG committed “perjury” and “lied” to the court over his role as an attorney in the Piarco International Airport corruption case.
She insisted the AG had placed the country in a “constitutional crisis” over the issue of recusing himself from the case.
Last week, 40 attorneys from the Law Association of T&T (LATT) also sent a requisition seeking a special general meeting to debate and vote on a motion of no confidence against Armour.
In the midst of the mounting calls, the AG, who flew out of the country last week Tuesday for two days on “official business,” remained silent on the matter.
The brouhaha with the AG developed earlier this month when he labelled himself “a junior lawyer” and, therefore, “basically a “note-taker” and “researcher” when he represented former finance minister Brian Kuei Tung in the criminal proceedings surrounding allegations of fraud and corruption in the construction of the Piarco International Airport.
This claim by the AG was refuted by attorneys for Kuei Tung as false and a Miami court judge had disqualified Armour and Sequor Law Firm from representing T&T in the proceedings against Kuei Tung.
The AG had recused himself from the matter after the disqualification was filed and former attorney general, now Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi, was appointed special client representative for all matters related to the Miami lawsuit.
Armour, along with other attorneys had previously represented Kuei Tung in the matter at the Magistrates’ Court in 2004.
While he addressed the issue in a public statement June 4, he declined to elaborate having regard to the impending proceedings in Miami.
However, he said, “While I must continue to restrict my comments on the matter to avoid prejudicing those proceedings, I consider the concerns being expressed to be plainly legitimate and that I ought therefore to respond to them in greater detail.”
Armour had not spoken out before because of what he termed his “perceived need to be circumspect.”
He referred to the order disqualifying him from participating in the Miami proceedings which is under appeal and therefore subjudice, and partly because he was called away from T&T on unrelated government business.
During his time abroad, Armour was informed by US lawyers representing T&T that Kuei Tung and Steve Ferguson had applied to the Miami court to have him and the US lawyers disqualified from further representation in those proceedings.
He said the basis of the application was his prior representation of Kuei Tung in related criminal proceedings in T&T.
In the June 4 statement, Armour claimed he had already recused himself from acting on behalf of the country.
“My prior involvement in Mr Kuei Tung’s defence was therefore, in my view, immaterial. But I was relying on our US lawyers to advise me on what further action, if any, it would be appropriate for me to take in relation to the proceedings,” he said.
“In relation to the disqualification application, the Republic’s US lawyers advised me to sign an affidavit that included, among other things, a brief description of my involvement in Mr Kuei Tung’s defence in the local criminal proceedings. My involvement in that matter had ended many (I believe upwards of 14) years before.”
He claimed not to have any papers relating to Kuei Tung’s defence on his person in England or even in Trinidad since he “had disposed of those papers a long time ago.”