Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lawyers contradict THA; say THA had role to play in Culloden estate land deal

Culloden Estate, Tobago
Two lawyers have contradicted a statement by Alvin Pascall, a lawyer for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), who has stated that the THA has no authority or responsibility to approve any foreign investment licence (FIL) in the controversial Culloden Estate matter.

A group of UK investors is suing the state for $200 million, claiming that the THA reneged on a land deal. And Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has asked the THA for a report on the matter.

On Wednesday Martin George, the local attorney representing the UK investors, and Donna Prowell, the lead counsel for the State, said Pascall's statements are "untruthful and contradictory" and make no sense. 

They told the Guardian newspaper the guidelines and conditions for licences under the Foreign Investment Act 1990 clearly show that Pascall was wrong and that the THA had a clear role to play.

Pascall wrote to Prowell on Monday, stating that the THA has no authority or responsibility "for the collection, processing, approving and/or granting licences, pursuant to the Foreign Investment Act." He stated further that "there is no institution or department in Tobago which entertains application/applications for a foreign investment licence". He added that granting such licences is solely a matter for the Finance Ministry.

Prowell told the Guardian, “Mr Pascall is not pointing out any particular time or anything like that. This is a blanket denial.” She said No 14 of the guidelines clearly makes reference to the Culloden Estate as being earmarked for foreign investment.

The Guardian quoted George as saying the guidelines specifically state the THA has a role to play in the examination of documents where applications for foreign investment in Tobago are concerned. He told the paper Pascall’s statements were “inconceivable and incredible,” adding that Pascall was attempting to give the impression the THA knew nothing about the application and that it had also “never seen a file in the matter.”

The Attorney General told the Guardian it seems that Pascall is "drinking medicine for Orville’s fever” noting that London did not make an attempt to clear the air. “I must emphasise this is no joking matter. What is at stake is a $200 million claim against the Government. That is why I have asked for all the documentary evidence,” he said.

The AG said if there was a basis to defend the claim he would “most certainly do it” in the public interest, regardless of who it vindicated. “Justice must be done according to the law,” he told the Guardian.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai