Action for return of bank documents
Ish moves against Bahamas Govt
By FRANCIS JOSEPH, www.newsday.co.tt
BUSINESSMAN Ishwar Galbaransingh has filed a summons in the Bahamas High Court in which he is seeking an order to stop the Bahamas government from passing on information about his bank accounts to the TT Government with respect to the charges laid against him in the Piarco Airport corruption probe. Galbaransingh contends that his right to privacy was infringed by the decision of the Bahamas High Court on June 2, 2003 to grant an order to the Bahamas government to "co-operate" with the TT Government with respect to the Piarco Airport development project. Galbaransingh, in an affidavit, said he has been harassed and persecuted because of his political views and affiliations with the United National Congress (UNC) party. He described the whole affair as a political witch-hunt and a fishing expedition meant to get him at all costs. No date has yet been set for the hearing of Galbaransingh's summons. Galbaransingh is one of eight persons charged in 2002 with corruption arising out of the Piarco Airport development project.
Galbaransingh, chairman of Northern Construction Ltd (NCL), was charged with others for allegedly disposing the sum of $28,898,720.65, obtained from the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago by him by false pretences. Under the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act 2000, Justice Hartman Longley, sitting in the Bahamas High Court, granted an order to the Bahamas government on June 2, 2003 to seize documents and other material from the accounts of Galbaransingh, Steve Ferguson, of Maritime General Insurance Company Ltd, and Raul Gutierrez, of Calmaquip. This related to the continuing investigations into the $1.6 billion airport project. In his application, Galbaransingh wants the judge's order of June 2, 2003 to be set aside. Alternatively, the TT businessman is seeking a declaration that the law under which the judge's order was made is unconstitutional, invalid, null and void and of no effect. Galbaransingh wants the Bahamas attorney general to list all the copies of the documents seized from him. He is also asking for an order for the removal and destruction of all copies of the documents seized. He further asked for an order for the return of all his documents.
He also claims damages for the infringement of his rights. In his affidavit, Galbaransingh said that State attorney David West, the attorney general, and the Anti-Corruption Unit, knew that this money was not obtained from the Airports Authority by him or NCL on July 27, 2000 by false pretences.
He said the sum was awarded by Keith Sobion, principal of the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica, who was the arbitrator in a dispute between NCL and the Airports Authority arising out of a construction contract in the project known as CP6. Galbaransingh said no application was ever made to challenge or set aside Sobion's award. "By suppressing the aforesaid material information, the central authority of Trinidad and Tobago has sought to disguise the fact that the alleged investigation, the laying of the charges and the alleged on-going investigation are a political witch-hunt and fishing expedition and to mislead the central authority of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas as to the true purpose of the request. Galbaransingh said neither Bob Lindquist nor members of the Anti-Corruption Unit ever requested to interview or inform him of any allegation of wrongdoing being made against him.
He said the hostility against him, Steve Ferguson and Brian Kuei Tung and "the determination to get us all at costs is demonstrated by the bundle of newspaper clippings." Several newspaper reports from Trinidad were included in the court documents filed by Galbaransingh. "The request is yet another example of the attempt to seek to condemn me without giving me notice of the allegations being made against me and an opportunity to be heard in response. It is also a fishing expedition which does not and cannot identify any transaction that is being questioned." Phillip Mc Kenzie, an attorney in the firm of Davis and Co in The Bahamas, who represents Galbaransingh, also swore to an affidavit in which he outlined in detail how long it took for the Piarco Airport terminal to be constructed. He said the idea was born under the ANR Robinson administration.
Attempts were made by the Patrick Manning Government, but the project really got going under the Basdeo Panday administration. "I am advised and verily believe that the application by the government of The Bahamas on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is nothing more than a fishing expedition targetted for political purposes against the applicant (Galbaransingh) having regard to his political affiliations with the United National Congress. Contacted yesterday, Gillian Lucky, one of Galbaransingh's attorneys said she knew nothing about her client's Bahamas court action. However, Maxie Cuffie, policy advisor to the Attorney General, confirmed that Galbaransingh did file the summons in the Bahamas court.
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