Sherman Mc Nicolls: I never took a bribe

By Francis Joseph
Wednesday, September 19 2007

Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc NicollsCHIEF MAGISTRATE Sherman Mc Nicolls stated quite emphatically yesterday that he never took a bribe from anyone in Trinidad and Tobago.

“Ask anyone if they ever offered me a bribe, or gave me a bribe. Not a single one in this country can say I asked for a bribe, or got a bribe. Every single cent I have, I have worked hard for it.”

A tense-looking Mc Nicolls was the first witness called before the three-member tribunal appointed by the President to decide whether Chief Justice Sat Sharma should be removed from office.

Before Mc Nicolls was called to the stand at Winsure building, the tribunal members — Lord Mustill, Sir Vincent Floissac and Dennis Morrison QC — dealt with two specific issues.

During the lunch break, the fire alarm went off forcing everyone to evacuate the building. The courtroom was packed as Mc Nicolls, of New Grant, took the stand and swore on the Bible. He was presented for cross-examination.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, lead attorney for Sharma, started cross-examination. Mc Nicolls said on March 27, 2006, after Clico bossman Lawrence Duprey gave evidence for Basdeo Panday in the integrity trial, he called one Anthony Maharaj at Clico concerning a land transaction.

“I called about a $400,000 deposit for a block of land. We were in negotiations before the trial and he offered to buy the land that I had to sell. It was in that context that the money arose. I had been trying to sell the land for about six months for $4 million.”

Mc Nicolls said no one was interested in buying the land, so he was happy when Maharaj showed interest. “I was in debt, I had a $3.8 million debt. I was overdrawn at my bank, I did not have sufficient funds.”

Mc Nicolls said the day after Duprey testified, he received a cheque for $400,000 and deposited it in his account. But he could not give the name of the man who brought the cheque. “His name is not important, he was simply bringing the cheque from Clico. He handed me the cheque, not from Tony Maharaj, but from a Clico subsidiary, CMMB. It was a payment to me of a deposit for the sale of my land. It was that and nothing else,” an agitated Mc Nicolls added.

When asked by Robertson if there was a sale agreement for the land, Mc Nicolls said no. The Chief Magistrate stated that he did not give a receipt for the $400,000.

ROBERTSON: Was this a bribe?

MC NICOLLS: This was not a bribe. I became suspicious of the cheque sent to me. It was not from Tony Maharaj, but from CMMB. As there was no agreement, it aroused my suspicion, so I returned the cheque.

ROBERTSON: Did it occur to you that this was a dubious transaction?

MC NICOLLS: No. If I knew, I would have stopped it there. When I took the cheque to the bank, my conscience was clear. My conscience became unclear two days after. I said something seems to be wrong with this cheque. It was made out by CMMB, not Tony Maharaj.

ROBERTSON: Did you know the cheque was post-dated?

MC NICOLLS: I did not know.

ROBERTSON: The cheque bounced? The bank wanted an explanation? Was it grossly improper to receive money from Clico at a time when the head of Clico was giving evidence?

MC NICOLLS: The money was not sent as a bribe from Clico. I have never taken a bribe. I do not know what a bribe looks like.

ROBERTSON: It looks like the cheque you received.

MC NICOLLS: It is most ridiculous to suggest that I took a bribe. Mr Maharaj appeared genuine, he sounded genuine, I felt it was a trap, that he was setting me up. But I still did not think it was a bribe.

ROBERTSON: You returned the cheque because you were found out.

MC NICOLLS: I was never found out. I decided to cancel the transaction and return the cheque.

Mc Nicolls said after the completion of evidence in the Panday trial, he went to see Sharma. “I did not turn up to tell him about my big case. I cannot recall why I went to see him. I have no diary, I depend on my memory.”

Mc Nicolls said Sharma asked him about the Panday case and to go easy with the former Prime Minister. “I was in shock when the Chief Justice said that to me. I said nothing for the seven minutes I was there. I never made a note of it. I was never making a case against the Chief Justice.

Floissac intervened, “the cheque you got was from CMMB, when you borrowed the money to repay, whom did you make it out to?”

MC NICOLLS: Tony Maharaj.

Mc Nicolls will be further cross-examined when hearing resumes this morning.,64430.html

CJ TRIBUNAL : Mc Nicolls grilled over CMMB cheque that bounced
Wednesday, September 19 2007

Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls was yesterday subjected to an afternoon of grilling by British attorney, Geoffrey Robertson QC, over a $400,000 CMMB cheque – No. 035213, and dated March 28, 2006.

Mc Nicolls, who told the Tribunal that the cheque was from one Tony Maraj, and was a down payment for the purchase of a parcel of land he was selling for $4 million. There was no draft or official agreement to the deal, nor was there a receipt for the $400,000 down payment.

However, the cheque had bounced, and according to Mc Nicolls, when he reflected on the matter he became suspicious, and paid back the money, putting himself deeper into overdraft charges.

Mc Nicolls agreed he was in serious debt when he got the down payment.

However, while he insisted the $400,000 was a down payment on the land, he strongly denied that it was a bribe in the Basdeo Panday case.

Nearing the end of yesterday’s session, Tribunal member Sir Vincent Floissac QC, posed the question to Mc Nicolls. “You spoke to Tony Maraj over the phone. He later sent you a cheque; the cheque you received was a CMMB cheque; you deposited it in your bank account, and when you became suspicious, you paid back the money to Anthony Maraj. But how did you know it was Tony Maraj of CLICO who sent the cheque when it was a CMMB cheque. Shouldn’t the money be paid back to CMMB?

Yesterday was the second day of hearing by the three-member Tribunal inquiring into the two national offices, central to the administration of Justice in Trinidad and Tobago – the offices of Chief Magistrate and Chief Justice – at the Winsure Building on Richmond Street.

The morning session was taken up with submissions on oath, and the Naraynsingh matter, which was subsequently thrown out by the Tribunal.

An early lunch was taken and hearing was resumed at 1.30 pm. At 1.32 pm Chief Magistrate Mc Nicolls went into the witness-box.

Asked by Robertson QC to state his name and address, Mc Nicolls responded: “My name is Sherman Mc Nicolls. My address is 26 Torib Tabaquite Road, New Grant.

Tribunal chairman, Lord Mustill: You are the Chief Magistrate of Trinidad and Tobago?

Mc Nicolls: Yes.

Lord Mustill: You gave statements in this matter.

Mc Nicolls: I gave two statements.

Under cross-examination by Geoffrey Robertson QC, Counsel for Chief Justice Sat Sharma, Mc Nicolls’ attention was drawn to statement D 11.

Robertson: you heard evidence in the Panday case from one Mr Duprey, head of CLICO, who came as a witness for the defence. You heard that the money for Mr Panday was a scholarship for his children – Yes.

Robertson: You heard from Mr Cassel telling Mr Panday that the money obtained was a bribe for something obtained from the government. Was the money paid as a bribe, or was it a scholarship.

Robertson: Mr Duprey, was he the only witness called by Mr Panday – Yes

Robertson: So Mr Panday’s fate hung on the evidence of Mr Duprey

Mc Nicolls: But Mr Duprey was not the only witness.

ROBERTSON: But he was the only witness called by Mr Panday – Yes.

You recall March 27 – Yes.

On that day you called Mr Maraj at CLICO. And you knew the reason you took up the telephone and called, was to obtain a large sum of money?

Mc Nicolls: That is totally wrong.

ROBERTSON: You called him and asked him to deposit $400,000 on a piece of land? – Yes.

Did you make one or two calls on the 27th? – I may have called him once or twice

The request was made to have him sent the money first?

Mc Nicolls: We were in negotiations before that date, and I considered that payment was for the land I wanted to sell.

Robertson: You had avertised this land for sale? – Yes

In one or two newspapers? – It was advertised in one newspaper on several occasions.

ROBERTSON: And you did not get one single bite; no one was interested in buying that plot of land. And during the week of the Panday trial Mr Maraj called you and said he would like to buy it?

Mc Nicolls: It would have been before the end of the Panday trial.

Robertson: Look at your statement at paragraph 20. You said in the week of March 28 you got a telephone call from CLICO.

Asked about his statement, Mc Nicolls indicated that sometime later he reflected on the matter. He said when he gave his statement he gave the facts as he recalled it.

Having reflected on the matter Mc Nicolls said he may have called twice.

When asked by Robertson if he had made about 10 statements, Mc Nicolls said he could not recall how many, but he believed it was about seven.

Robertson: You made a statement a few days ago and you do not recall having made the two telephone calls.

You said on March 28 you received a call from Maraj that he would pay you $400,000? – Yes.

Robertson: You were very happy because you were very much in debt. Mc Nicolls admitted that he had overdrawn on his bank account and interest was being incurred.

Robertson: You would have incurred bank charges; you were in great debt. And so Mr Maraj called you during that week and said he could buy the land. He agreed on the $4 million. After hearing Duprey’s evidence you called him and asked him to send the $400,000 as a deposit?

Mc Nicolls: It was the next day.

Robertson: Look at your statement C 22. C11 is a letter you wrote to Mr Maraj. Towards the end of C 11 there is some writing about returning the cheque.

Mc Nicolls: said he was no longer interested in selling the parcel of land to him, and in the statement he returned the cheque which was sent on the 27th.

Robertson: We know you banked it on the 28th.

Mc Nicolls: The very afternon I got the cheque I went to the bank on the 27th. In the letter there was an error on my part.

Robertson: But in your statement to the Police you said the 27th? – Yes

ROBERTSON: You remember swearing to a statement in the magistrate’s court, and you said sometime after the 27th Mr Maraj told me that he was sending the cheque. Sometime later that day Maraj phoned me and said he had sent the cheque to me. In a later statement you said the young man came to you on the very afternoon.

Mc Nicolls: I was genuinely mistaken to verify the bank report. But when we did a check later, it was March 28. It was a genuine error.

Under further cross-examination Mc Nicolls said he did not know the name of the young man who delivered the cheque, but he recalled being able to tell a member of his staff to go downstairs and receive the cheque. His name was not important, for the simple reason he was bringing the money for the land.

Witness recalled having received the cheque; he looked at it, but it was not from Mr Maraj but a CLICO subsidiary of which Mr Duprey is a director.

ROBERTSON: The payment to you from CLICO for $400,000?

Mc Nicolls: It was a payment to me representing a deposit on the land.

ROBERTSON: I am putting it to you, that it had nothing to do with the land. It was a bribe.

Mc Nicolls recalled that it was in March, 2006 that during brief discussions it was agreed that he would prepare an agreerment for the land purchase, but since Maraj was the purchaser, it was him to prepare the agreement.

Asked if he had ever sold land before Mc Nicolls recalled having bought two lots of land in 1993 which he later sold.

ROBERTSON: Do you know that once a letter is accepted it is followed up by a draft agreement for sale. After that it is then the 10 percent deposit is paid?

MC NICOLLS: I believed Mr Maraj knew I needed the money, because I had finances to settle with the bank. Mr Maraj did not call me out of the blue.

Witness also recalled one Mr Winston Williams who told him about Mr Maraj.

ROBERTSON: This is the first time we are hearing this. This was a bribe.

MC NICOLLS: No, no. I said when I became suspicious of the cheque I sent it to him when my suspicion was aroused.

ROBERTSON: There is nothing about an agreement?

Mc Nicolls: Nothing. At the time I was I was focussed on receiving the deposit.

ROBERTSON: No receipt? – No.

ROBERTSON: At the time you had paper and pen, and this was $400,000. Did the young man ask for a receipt? – No, because I had spoken to Mr Maraj.

LORD MUSTILL: When did you become Chief Magistrate?

Mc Nicolls: April, 1999.

ROBERTSON: It must have been extremely obvious to you that this was a dubious transaction.

MC NICOLLS: It never occurred to me it was a dubious transaction. My conscience was clear as I received the cheque and took it to the bank.

ROBERTSON: What was your salary at the time?

MC NICOLLS: With allowances it was $45,000 per month.

ROBERTSON: Take home pay? – Not more than $30,000.

ROBERTSON: So in fact this $400,000 was a very large sum? – Compared to the salary, yes.

ROBERTSON: And there was no receipt? – At the time. I had intended shortly after to contact my people to deal with CLICO. This money went into your account to take care of your overdraft. You accepted the money without any receipt. The name of the bearer was not recorded by your secretary, or the security?

Asked if he had a deposit slip from the bank, Mc Nicolls said he had passed it on to his attorneys.

When the bank documents were discovered among the bundle of documents, the Tribunal noted that the deposit voucher was dated March 28.

MC NICOLLS: That is the date I deposited the cheque. Yes, I had a clear conscience.

ROBERTSON: When did your conscience become unclear?

MC NICOLLS: About two days after.

Witness said he reflected and thought to himself that something was wrong with the cheque. He noted that it was a CMMB cheque, and that Tony Maraj’s name was not on it. I saw it was a CMMB cheque, and I felt it was suspicious because I had not entered into any agreement for sale of the land. My conscience was always clear.

Witness said when he got the cheque, a little suspicion was around.

LORD MUSTILL: Would you tell us when you became a bit suspicious; tell us.

The Tribunal noted that the cheque was marked return unpaid. In the area for reasons, there was a crossing stamp post-dated.

Witness said he did not endorse the cheque which was not returned to him.

LORD MUSTILL: So this cheque bounced, and the bank gave an explanation for it.

ROBERTSON TO WITNESS: Do you remember saying at the time that it was post-dated

MC NICOLLS: I really did not pay attention to the date.

The Tribunal noted that the CMMB cheque was dated 28-03-06. Its number was 035213.

ROBERTSON: Can you tell us what was the problem with the cheque; you did indicate that on March 31 there was some problem with the cheque.

MC NICOLLS: I can only go by what I see documented from the bank. They said the cheque could not be cashed and they had sent it back to First Citizens Bank.

LORD MUSTILL: I thought that the cheque was post-dated.

Under further cross-examination witness said he did not know a Mr Robert Mayers, but shortly after Lord Mustill, Chairman of the Tribunal, hinted to Mr Robertson that he seemed to be squeezing the issue dry. “Alright,” he declared, “let us move on.”

Later, witness went on to say there was no agreement between himself and CLICO. “There was discussion between Mr Maraj and I,” he said.

ROBERTSON: Don’t you think it was grossly improper in getting money from CLICO. It was obviously a bribe.

MC NICOLLS: In all my life, no one in this country can point a finger at me and say I took a bribe, or, I asked for a bribe; or, I did anything for a bribe. I don’t know what a bribe looks like.

ROBERTSON: The cheque for $400,000 looks like a bribe.

MC NICOLLS: Every single cent I have earned, I have worked for it, and hard.

ROBERTSON: Would you let us have your bank statements? But at this stage Tribunal member, Dennis Morrison, objected to the request.

Shortly after, Tribunal chairman, Lord Mustill made it clear that only in the year of 2006 alone “we would order Mr Mc Nicolls bank statement.”

ROBERTSON TO MC NICOLLS: Did you send Mr Maraj anything?

MC NICOLLS: Yes, on April 3 I sent a letter with the $400,000.

ROBERTSON: And you must have put yourself $400,000 more in debt by sending the money back, although you were interested in getting out of your $4 million debt? – Yes.

Mc Nicolls said at first Maraj seemed genuine, but reflecting on the issue Mc Nicolls said he felt there must have been a trap set for him.

MC NICOLLS: I considered the transaction was illegal and sent it back. Something was wrng with the cheque; I did not wait to find out.

ROBERTSON: To whom did you speak between March 28 and April 3 on this matter?

MC NICOLLS: I had one conversation with the Attorney General.

ROBERTSON: Who else? – No one else

What about Mr Williams? – No conversation a t all.

Anyone from CLICO? – No sir

What about Mr Maraj? – That is the day on which I wanted to send back the cheque. I phoned him and asked him his proper name. At the time I received the cheque I knew him as Tony Maraj. When I called him back to find out his proper name, it was Anthony Maraj. I knew him as Tony Maraj until April 3. His office was found on Tragarete Road.

ROBERTSON: You accept that this looked very much like a bribe?

MC NICOLLS: It never crossed my mind. I do not know what a bribe looks like.

ROBERTSON: You had a bribe, you then went to the Chief Justice meeting on March 28. You initiated the meeting? – Yes.

You turned up without any prior warning; no appointment so no one would get to see you. You turned up unannounced and unexpected to tell him…

MC NICOLLS: That is totally incorrect.

ROBERTSON: What matters you had gone to discuss on March 28?

Witness said he could not recall, but it was usually check office files and other matters relating to the job.

Witness was asked if he kept a diary. He said “no” he usually depended on his recollection.

ROBERTSON: So you turned up at 9 am. By this time you had been Chief Magistrate for seven years, longer than he had been Chief Justice? – Yes.

Counsel reading from a document noted Mc Nicolls had said in his statement, that the Chief Justice Sharma had made points that he Mc Nicolls must note in his judgment in the Panday matter.

ROBERTSON: But as an experienced man, you would tell him ‘hold on Chief; this is not your judgment, it is mine.’ but you never said a word.

MC NICOLLS: I never said anything.

ROBERTSON: When the CJ rules up a judgment for you with six points, and you said nothing?

MC NICOLLS: I said absolutely nothing.

ROBERTSON: Here was this Chief Justice committing a crime – to pervert the course of Justice, and yet you said nothing?

MC NICOLLS: I said nothing. I was shocked.

ROBERTSON: Six weeks later when you make a statement you could not recall? If you were a man of integrity you would have said, “but Chief, this is not so.”

MC NICOLLS: I was in shock when the Chief Justice said this.

ROBERTSON: You sat there listening to this man committing a crime, and you said nothing?

MC NICOLLS: Yes sir, I said nothing.

ROBERTSON: You worked with him for years, and yet you said nothing? – Yes

You made no protest at all? I said nothing.

ROBERTSON: When you’re hearing your cases and policemen appear you don’t ask them if they make notes in their diary, or notebook?

MC NICOLLS: I was not making a case against the Chief Justice so I did not. You are making up a story.

ROBERTSON: You never made a note.

LORD MUSTILL: I think we’ve got that.

Further cross-examined Mc Nicolls went on to insist that he never took money from CLICO.

ROBERTSON: You had your suspicions and you knew it was wrong. You took the money and you had to lay grounds for acquitting Mr Panday.

MC NICOLLS: The money never had anything to do with the Panday matter.

ROBERTSON: The next day, the money is on its way, then you come and say Chief, they didn’t treat Panday fairly.

MC NICOLLS: The cheque sent to me was a deposit for the purchase of the land.

ROBERTSON: You had a conversation with the CJ? – That is incorrect.

You had a discussion about the skeletal arguments, and told him about the pundit being called to give evidence; and especially about the wife, who looks after the money. You heard about these things, and the pundit, and it was in this context you told Mr Cassel that. Why did you delay your adjudication in the Panday case on April 24 on April 24?

MC NICOLLS: I had adjourned it at a reasonable date before, and in addition I was due to go to Spain. Also, in that case substantial submissions were made.

ROBERTSON: You could have given judgment on the 31 st or even before you went away.

Mc Nicolls: I had reserved my decision to April 24.

ROBERTSON: Clearly, on April 3 you decided on the conversation with the bank manager to repay this $400,000. What was the conversation with Mr Ramoutar?

MC NICOLLS: I told him I was in a bind because I did not have the money to return it at the time, and I needed to get $400,000 overdraft, and he agreed. I wanted the money right away to pay back the money for the land.

At 3.05 pm Lord Mustill, Chairman of the Tribunal enquired from Counsel for the Tribunal, Reginald Armour SC about what progress had been made in getting the reports of Justices Ventour and Stollmeyer.

Armour told the Tribunal that the reports were not received.

Further cross-examined by Robertson about the $400,000, Mc Nicolls told the Tribunal that there was no agreement draft on the sale but he anticipated a cheque from Tony Maraj, not CLICO.

Armour further informed the Tribunal about what corresponded from the Tribunal to the Joint Legal Services Commission (JLSC). He said the secretary to the Tribunal’s Secretariat had spoken to the secretary of the JLSC, and nothing further was heard.

He read a document indicating that the Tribunal was seeking, confidentially for Counsel and the Tribunal, on the issues as they related to Mc Nicolls.

The Tribunal wanted to see what relevance there was, and if so, to recommend that the documents be made for public use at the tribunal hearing.

The JLSC responded by fax acknowledging receipt of the letter from the Tribunal, but stating that the matter would be placed before the JLSC on September 25 for its consideration.

Just prior to closing, Sir Vincent Floissac QC, who listened most of the time during the cross- examination enquired from Mc Nicolls. He asked him “you received a cheque for $400,000 from CMMB and you decided to refund the money? – Yes.

To whom was the cheque made out to? – To Tony Maraj.

Why was it made out to him when it was a CMMB cheque?

MC NICOLLS: I expected the cheque was coming from Tony Maraj as a deposit on the land. I had spoken to no one from CMMB.

SIR VINCENT: The cheque should have been to CMMB.

Hearing resumes at 9.30 this morning when cross-examination is expected to continue.

Re: The Chief Magistrate; Reports of Mr Justice Ventour and Justice Stollmeyer

We refer to previous correspondence on the captioned subject matter ending with our letter to you dated 13th September, 2007.

We wish to advise that the Tribunal appointed to enquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof as to whether it recommends to His Excellency the President whether he should refer the question of the removal of the Honourable Chief Justice to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council commenced sitting today.

We have been asked by Counsel to the Tribunal to convey to you that it is the considered opinion of the Tribunal, expressed in open Court yesterday the 17th September, 2007, that it is in the public interest that the reports of Mr Justice Stollmeyer and Mr Justice Ventour be disclosed, initially on a strictly confidential basis to the Secretariat for the attention only of the following persons: (1) The Tribunal (ii) counsel to Secretariat for the attention only of the following persons: (I) The Tribunal, (ii) counsel to the Tribunal (iii) counsel (2) for the Chief Justice, and (iv) counsel (2) for the Chief Magistrate, for the limited purpose of determining their relevance to the inquiry being conducted by the Tribunal. These reports will be considered by the Tribunal and select counsel at a private hearing.

Thereafter, in the event that the Tribunal considers that either or both reports are relevant to its inquiry, this will be communicated to the Commission with a recommendation to the Commission that the (or parts thereof) be made available for public use in the Tribunal proceedings.

We look forward to your urgent consideration of the Tribunal’s request in this regard and your equally urgent response. The Tribunal continues to sit today the 18th on a day to day basis.

Yours respectfully

Ida Mariana Eversley.,64444.html

3 Responses to “Sherman Mc Nicolls: I never took a bribe”

  • CJ TRIBUNAL Mc Nicolls’ regret over Sharma PI

    Thursday, September 20 2007

    CHIEF MAGISTRATE Sherman Mc Nicolls said yesterday he regretted not testifying in the criminal case against Chief Justice Sat Sharma.
    Because Mc Nicolls refused to be cross-examined at the preliminary inquiry, the charge of attempting to pervert the course of public justice against Sharma collapsed on March 5.

    At the impeachment tribunal at the Winsure building, Port-of-Spain yesterday, Mc Nicolls told a packed courtroom that on reflection, he should have testified when he was called to the witness box.

    Geoffrey Robertson QC, lead attorney for Sharma, spent a long time grilling Mc Nicolls on his land transaction and the reason why the Chief Magistrate refused to testify at the criminal inquiry.

    Mc Nicolls said he sent copies of a statement to the Office of the Attorney General for transmission to the President and Prime Minister, complaining about the Chief Justice. He said on May 11, 2006, he was called to police headquarters and interviewed by then Assistant Com-missioner Wellington Virgil.

    “ACP Virgil told me he had a complaint from the Prime Minister and that he was investigating it. I thought the police were investigating the matter on behalf of the police. I was never told that my statement was ever going to be used in criminal proceedings.”

    Mc Nicolls continued, “I made a complaint under section 137 of the Constitution. The police were investigating the matter.

    “I really thought they were doing it on behalf of the Prime Minister.”

    Mc Nicolls said he was aware there was an attempt to arrest Sharma in 2006. Lord Mustill, chairman of the tribunal, intervened. “Leave out section 137 and what you intended, you were giving evidence to a police officer, no matter how distasteful and unwelcome it was. If you disclose material for a prosecution, the police have no choice but to prosecute,” he said.

    MC NICOLLS: That was not operating in my mind.

    MUSTILL: If a witness goes along and makes a statement to the police, how could you say it could be used to get rid of the Chief Justice, and not be used to imprison him? There are some matters raised that 137 can be used at the same time criminal proceedings can be used. They have to be managed. It is not your job to manage them, let others decide what should be done.

    I don’t like this one, I don’t play ball. How could you think that was right? Once you start rolling the stone down the hill……Was your train of thought that you get rid of the Chief Justice because he was a menace, and that you did not want to see him in prison?

    MC NICOLLS: I made a complaint to the Prime Minister.

    MUSTILL: You didn’t think it would have been used in 137 alone? Do you think it was terrible for you not to testify in the case?

    MC NICOLLS: On reflection, it was.

    MUSTILL: Did you explain to the court why you did not want to give evidence?


    MUSTILL: It must have been a surprise to you, in a puff of wind, that the case collapsed?

    MC NICOLLS: I expected an adjournment.

    Dennis Morrison QC, another member of the tribunal, asked, “You expected an adjournment to what end?”

    Mc Nicolls said he expected an adjournment so he can reflect on his evidence.

    MORRISON: What further you think would have taken place? What was your state of mind?

    MC NICOLLS: I was hoping the State would have gotten an adjournment and with the passage of time, I would have decided what to do. If the court insisted that I had to testify, I would have.

    In response to a question from Robertson, Mc Nicolls denied that he went to the Attorney General after he was pulled in by the Chief Justice to discuss a land transaction. “It was not revenge, and it was not a pre-emptive strike. I did not turn on the Chief Justice. I cooperated with the police. The Chief Justice had gone to the Commission (JLSC) saying I had made a substantive profit in this land deal,” he said.

    Mc Nicolls returns to the witness stand for the third day today.,64540.html

  • Mustill: Put Jeremie on the witness stand

    By Jada Loutoo
    Friday 21st September, 2007

    ATTORNEY General John Jeremie is now being called upon to clear up allegations that he was a co-conspirator in an elaborate scheme to get Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls out of a financial rut and “wreck” the Basdeo Panday integrity trial.

    Jeremie has been asked to testify at impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma.

    Sharma has claimed that Jeremie assisted in the sale of Mc Nicolls’ $4 million property at the Millennium Park development in Trincity and as a result, the chief magistrate was beholden to the AG.

    Mc Nicolls has denied this, but the tribunal’s chairman Lord Michael Mustill said this allegation had concerned the members for some time.

    “It is plain that the imputations are that they got together and influenced what was being done…What has been said is that there has been a small group of conspirators designed to pervert the course of public justice and the Attorney General at the very least was a part of the scheme,” Mustill said.

    He said the tribunal members were fearful that the evidence before them would be “incomplete” without Jeremie’s clarification of his role in the alleged conspiracy.

    “One thought the enquiry was to focus on the Chief Justice’s actions, but this has varied a great deal… The field of the inquiry has steadily expanded,” Mustill said.

    Mc Nicolls is under scrutiny by Sharma’s lawyers who have suggested that he covered up the sale of the land by running to the Prime Minister with a complaint that the CJ attempted to influence him in the Panday case.

    “Time has been spent on the actions and motives of the Chief Magistrate, but if we are going to form an opinion of the Chief Magistrate we must do it properly.

    “We don’t have all the relevant material and that is the Attorney General’s activities and actions have not yet been inspected. Imputations are being made that the Attorney General was a willing and active and possible instigator of a plot to wreck the trial of Mr Panday,” Mustill said.

    He said the allegations against Jeremie were not new, as they were contained in a complaint the Chief Justice sent out to the Police Commissioner on May 12, 2006, asking that the AG’s involvement with Mc Nicolls’ land sale be investigated.

    “But the line of cross-examination has been more explicit,” Mustill said of the allegations against Jeremie.

    He said the imputations coming out of the testimony of Mc Nicolls over the last three days were that the Attorney General colluded with PNM treasurer Andre Monteil, a CL Financial executive, and influenced what was being done in the Panday trial.

    “The people of Trinidad and Tobago are entitled to have this investigated fully,” Mustill stressed, as he said Jeremie must be given an opportunity clear his name.

    Jeremie has provided witness statements to the tribunal and according to Regional Armour, SC, counsel to the tribunal, the AG had already indicated he was willing to make himself available.

    His lawyers Douglas Mendes, SC, has requested copies of transcripts of proceedings so far before the AG attends the hearing.

    The tribunal’s request for Jeremie’s presence has curtailed Sharma’s testimony, who will now close the show.

    Sharma was prepared to go into the witness box yesterday, but his lawyers have said fairness demands that he give evidence last.

    Still to testify is Sgt Billy Romany.

    Hearings are being held at the Winsure Building on Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain.

    Mc Nicolls: AG not my ‘fairy godfather’

    Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls again stoutly defended his decision not to testify at the criminal prosecution of Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma, saying he believed at the time that Section 137 proceedings were being actively pursued by the executive.

    Mc Nicolls yesterday ended his testimony before the three-man tribunal set up to investigate the CJ’s alleged attempt to influence the Basdeo Panday integrity trial.

    He said he was told by Stuart Young, an attorney for the Prime Minister, that impeachment proceedings were being actively pursued as he defended his decision not to testify at the magistrates court against Sharma.

    Mc Nicolls also denied that Attorney General John Jeremie was his “fairy godfather” who extricated him from the questionable land deal with CL Financial and from giving evidence at the Sharma prosecution.

    “I’ve never had to thank him for saving me from financial ruin…I was never obligated to him in any way,” he said.

    In fact, he said Jeremie urged him to testify at Sharma’s criminal trial in March and he believed that impeachment proceedings against the CJ had been initiated by the PM when he sent his complaint, almost one year earlier.

  • Mustill: Put Jeremie on the witness stand
    ATTORNEY General John Jeremie is now being called upon to clear up allegations that he was a co-conspirator in an elaborate scheme to get Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls out of a financial rut and “wreck” the Basdeo Panday integrity trial…

    ‘Scheming’ AG
    Attorney General John Jeremie was not listed to be a witness at the impeachment tribunal of suspended Chief Justice Sat Sharma. But his name cropped up in cross-examination on Wednesday and yesterday, prompting the chairman of the tribunal, Lord Mustill to invite Jeremie to be a witness in the proceedings, which enters its fifth day today at Winsure building, Port-of-Spain.

    AG gets chance to defend himself

    Cassel: Nothing sinister in CJ chat
    British Queen’s Counsel Sir Timothy Cassel said yesterday that he did not attach any sinister motive to a conversation he had with Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma about the trial of former prime minister Basdeo Panday two months before the case started.

    Judge questions no-show by Chief Magistrate
    Questions of judicial supremacy were raised by a High Court judge as he denounced the decision of Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls not to appear before him and instead testify before the tribunal set up for impeachment proceedings against suspended Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma…

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