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UNC Financier Ferguson in jail awaiting bail

By Gyasi Gonzales and Darren Bahaw - Express

Former CEO of the Maritime Financial Group, Steve Ferguson, was up to late last night in prison after failed attempts to secure his $800,000 bail on a charge of fraud. But a further bid by Fergusonís lawyers to secure his freedom was initiated after 8 p.m. and was still in progress up to press time.

He had earlier appeared at the Port of Spain Magistrates Court jointly charged with the Airport Six with conspiracy to defraud the Airports Authority of over $19.7 million. The $19.7 million was said to be part of a larger sum of $28 million.

Problems with securing his bail caused him to be taken to the Port of Spain prison around 4.45 p.m. Up to 6 p.m. his lawyers were trying to provide documents to take his bail.

The two bailors, John Greenidge and Vijay Bhagan, along with Justice of the Peace Abraham Ali, were turned away by prison authorities after it was pointed out that Fergusonís bail of $800,000 had to be approved by a Clerk of the Peace.

UNC financier Jack Warner, along with Oliver Camps, were also outside the jail, and left disappointed by the news.

Ferguson, of Knightsbridge, Cascade, was charged by Supt Maurice Piggott, of the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau, shortly after 11 a.m. yesterday following his surrender to officers at the bureau. Ferguson had surrendered half an hour earlier at the offices of the bureau on Richmond Street, Port of Spain, accompanied by attorneys Gillian Lucky and David Patrick.

Appearing before Deputy Chief Magistrate Deborah Thomas-Felix in the Port of Spain Magistrates Fourth Court shortly before noon, Ferguson appeared at first to be unrepresented but wore a relieved look when attorneys Lucky and Rajiv Persad walked into the courtroom.

Lucky apologised for being late.
Appearing for the State were Deputy DPP Carla Brown-Antoine, Assistant DPP Maria Wilson and State counsel Kathy Ann Waterman.

According to the charge, the first laid under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2000, Ferguson and the other accused are alleged to have conspired to defraud millions of dollars from the Airports Authority between July 26 and December 21, 2000.

Another person, Barbara Gomes, former corporate Secretary of Fidelity Finance and Leasing Company, a subsidiary of the Maritime Group, is also jointly charged with the other accused.

Gomes has not yet been arrested and is reported to be out of the country.

Thomas-Felix granted Ferguson bail in the sum of $400,000 with two sureties ($800,000) and ordered that his matter be joined with the pending charges against the Airport Six and two companies.

The Airport Six are former government ministers Brian Kuei Tung and Russell Huggins, businessman Ishwar Galbaransingh, Maritime CEO John Henry Smith, businesswoman Renee Pierre and financial director of Northern Construction Limited (NCL) Amrith Maharaj.

The two companies involved are NCL and Fidelity Finance and Leasing Company. The charges all relate to a variety of financial transactions involving the $1.4 billion Piarco Airport development project.

The six, along with Ferguson, will now all re-appear before Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls on Friday where they will be informed of the new charge against them.

Lucky reappeared before Thomas-Felix three hours later when problems arose over securing Fergusonís bail.Lucky wanted to use deeds from different companies but the magistrate objected, noting that some of Fergusonís co-accused were involved with some of the companies.

Shortly after 4.35 p.m. Ferguson was taken away in an Amalgamated prisons van to the Port of Spain Prison on Frederick Street.

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