Attorney General Reginald Armour

‘submitted affidavit based on memory’: Attorney General Reginald Armour.

Attorney General Reginald Armour has broken his silence to explain that although he swore he was just a “junior counsel” to former finance minister Brian Kuei Tung based on his memory, he thereafter realised this was not so but the opportunity to file an affidavit correcting the record was never afforded him.

On June 5 the Sunday Express exclusively reported that a Miami court ordered that Armour be disqualified from representing Trinidad and Tobago in the civil proceedings in the Unites States relating to fraud and corruption charges arising from the construction of Piarco International Airport.

The court also ordered that the law firm used by the Attorney General’s office in the matter—Sequor Law—be disqualified.

On May 2, 2022 the Miami court ordered that Armour be disqualified and accepted arguments from attorneys representing Kuei Tung and Steve Ferguson who filed the application on April 13, 2022 for disqualification given the conflict of interest as Armour was Kuei Tung’s legal representative in the criminal proceedings related to the Piarco Airport case in Trinidad and Tobago.

In his affidavit, Armour, who was appointed senior counsel in 2003 and represented Kuei Tung between January 2003 and January 2008, stated he was a junior counsel and basically a note taker in representing Kuei Tung. He also stated that he expanded the recusal of himself from the matter after the disqualification was filed and that former attorney general now Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi was appointed special client representative for all matters related to the Miami lawsuit.

Armour’s claim that he was a junior lawyer and researcher was refuted by Kuei Tung, Ferguson as well as Ishwar Galbaransingh who stated that Armour was an active participant in the criminal proceedings in Trinidad as well as in the Commission of Enquiry that was appointed to investigate the Piarco Airport construction.

The AG issued a release on the matter on June 4 after receiving questions from the Sunday Express including why he indicated he was a junior counsel.

In that statement, the AG advised that the judge’s order had been appealed, adding that he was of the view that it was “patently wrong”.

The AG also disclosed that notwithstanding the appeal and in the interest of not providing any cause for unwarranted allegations affecting the capacity of attorneys to continue with the prosecution of the Miami Case, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (ROTT) has replaced Sequor Law Firm and retained the Law Firm of White & Case LLP, Southeast Financial Center, 200 South Biscayne Blvd, Suite 4900, Miami FL 33131–2352.

Failing memory

Armour had thereafter opted to remain silent on the matter.

However, on the heels of a petition to the Law Association calling for a special meeting to move a no confidence meeting in the AG, Armour yesterday issued another statement.

In an advertisement in today’s Express (Page 13), the AG noted that “ongoing concerns” that have been raised by some of his colleagues in the legislature and the legal profession, in the media and among members of the public, concerning the affidavit he had filed in Miami.

Pointing out that he had addressed the issue in a June 4 statement and declined further comment, 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, to the extent practical.

“I have not done so until now because of my continuing perceived need to be circumspect and which I have already stated, because the order disqualifying me from participation in the Miami proceedings is under appeal and therefore sub judice, and partly because I was called away from Trinidad and Tobago on urgent, unrelated government business.”

The AG reiterated that he was on a holiday in Europe with his family when US attorneys representing Kuei Tung and Ferguson applied to the Miami court to have him and T&T’s US lawyers disqualified from further representation of the Plaintiff in those proceedings.

He noted that the basis of the application was his prior representation of Kuei Tung in related criminal proceedings in Trinidad and Tobago.

Armour reiterated that he had already “recused” himself from acting on behalf of the Republic.

He went on to explain that he heavily relied on the US attorneys for guidance on the matter.

“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 stated.

Armour said he submitted an affidavit based on memory.

“In relation to the disqualification application, the Republic’s (T&T) 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. As stated before, I was at the time on holiday with my family and I did not have any papers relating to Mr Kuei Tung’s defence with me or even in Trinidad since I had disposed of those papers a long time ago,” he stated.

“I therefore had to rely entirely on my memory. As I said in the affidavit which

I signed, I did not recollect any details of my representation of Mr Kuei Tung. To the best of my recollection at the time, I had acted as junior counsel to Mr Allan Alexander SC and had primarily done research and taken notes in Mr Kuei Tung’s defence, and that is what I said.”

On the move

Armour said there was “nothing to be gained” by downplaying his involvement in Kuei Tung’s defence.

“I had not received any advice from the US lawyers, for example, that the lesser the degree of my involvement in his defence, the better. I had already recused myself from the case and had delegated the role of giving instructions to the US lawyers to Hon Faris Al-Rawi, the former attorney general, who was the acting Attorney General during the period of my absence from the country,” he stated.

He also said, “Because I was on the move, on holiday, and given the urgency with which I was asked to sign the affidavit and notwithstanding having no opportunity

to locate a Notary Public, I was only able to sign and email the document to the acting Attorney General on 24th April 2022 for transmission to the US lawyers. I represented in my affidavit accurately what I had remembered being my involvement in the case.”

Armour stated affidavits were submitted in response to his affidavit late on April 26, 2022 - two days after he had e-mailed his affidavit, and these were drawn to his attention on that very night.

He was referring to supplemental affidavits from Kuei Tung, Ferguson as well as Galbaransingh who refuted his claim that he was a junior counsel.

Armour stated he was still abroad on holiday.

He went to say that he tried to immediately make a correction.

“This was the night before the disqualification application was due to be heard by the Miami judge. Upon reading those affidavits, I realised that my involvement in Mr Kuei Tung’s defence was more than I had recalled, and that I needed to clarify this so as to correct my affidavit urgently,” he stated.

“I therefore immediately told the acting Attorney General that I wanted to correct the record by confirming that my involvement had been more extensive than I had previously recalled and stated,” he added.

‘Suspended my holiday’

Armour stated that given the fact that the affidavits in response had been filed the day before the hearing, he was confident that he would be given an opportunity to lodge a clarifying affidavit.

“Moreover, I was told by the Acting Attorney General that the US lawyers asked that I remain available on the 27th April whilst the Court was sitting in order to answer any questions,” he stated.

The AG said he put his holiday on hold and stayed close to the phone.

“This I did as requested, by suspending my holiday for that day and remaining in my hotel room with my phone. The opportunity to file an affidavit correcting the record was never afforded to me. I was surprised to learn that the judge had made the order disqualifying me and the Republic’s US lawyers on the 27th April 2002, which meant that there was no opportunity for me to put my clarifying evidence on the record,” he stated.

“He made his order on the basis of a rule which, in his view, but this is on appeal, required automatic disqualification irrespective of the level of my involvement in Mr Kuei Tung’s defence,” stated the AG.

He reiterated that his affidavit was based on memory which he tried to unsuccessfully correct.

“The end result is that I signed an affidavit based entirely upon my best recollection, but I was attempting to recall events occurring some 14 years before. I did not get the opportunity to correct my affidavit because the Judge made the order before I had a chance to do so. There was no attempt on my part to mislead the court in any way,” he stated.

The AGs statement concluded, “The matter is currently still before the courts, including my March 30th, 2022 recusal and we await the outcome of the appeal, as Trinidad and Tobago diligently continues to pursue the Piarco Airport fraud matter in the courts abroad.”

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