Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, disclosed the news as he briefed journalists on the ruling at a news conference at his Cabildo Chambers office yesterday.
He hailed as a victory for accountability last Monday’s ruling by Justices Nolan Bereaux and Maureen Rajnauth-Lee against eight former directors of eTeck — Kenneth Julien, Ulric McNicol, Brian Copeland, Rene Monteil, Eugene Tiah, Sonia Noel, Wendy Fitzwilliam and John Soo Ping Chow.
The appellant’s attorneys were Douglas Mendes SC and John Jeremie SC, leading Michael Quamina and Stuart Young, instructed by Kahaya Nanhu, while the present board of eTeck was represented by attorneys Vincent Nelson QC, leading Gerald Ramdeen, instructed by Varun Debideen.
Ramlogan said the ruling was “a red letter day” that ushers in a new era of corporate governance and that vindicates his decision to pursue the case.
He also said the basis of the ruling — rejecting the argument that it is too late to pursue the claim — was good news for several other claims being pursued under this administration against past boards of directors under the former administration, namely Udecott; University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and Petrotrin’s former head, Malcolm Jones.
Ramlogan said if the eTeck directors had won their appeal, their argument would have “knocked out” the Government’s position in all three other lawsuits.
The total sum the Government is trying to recover in the four cases against former directors is $2 billion, he noted.
In the eTeck case, Ramlogan said the judges rejected a call by the appellants to create a special exemption from the Limitation Act for State companies. He said the appellants had tried, unsuccessfully, to argue that it is now too late to sue the former directors as any wrongdoing in eTeck should have been known about all along by the then Finance Minister.
Ramlogan said the eTeck former board had acted independently (of parties such as the then Finance Minister), to decide to invest $30 million which had then vanished into thin air.
Ramlogan said the court ruled that only upon a change in government (and ministers) was it likely for the eTeck woes to be discovered, and so the usual four-year limit to sue under the Limitation Act cannot now apply in this case.