Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s Media Conference – Tuesday June 8th 2021-06-08
Key Points from Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s Media Conference – Tuesday June 8th 2021-06-08
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi hosted a Media Conference today to clarify an Express newspaper report headlined “AG Refuses To Reveal Lawyers’ Fees – Top Secret.”
He denied that this was accurate, saying there can be no lack of transparency with taxpaying dollars and the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs is subject to examination, interrogation and auditing.
AG Al-Rawi confirmed that an interim audit was conducted on February 15th 2021 by the Office of the Auditor General and on March 5th, the Auditor General wrote the Ministry, giving the final audit for the Financial Year ending September 30th 2020. He acknowledged that some inquiries were made and the answers were readily given. Since then, no issues arose.
AG Al-Rawi stated that he received two Freedom of Information requests regarding legal fees and his office has been providing the information to the interested parties, including those coming from UNC MP Saddam Hosein’s camp. He explained that disclosure was withheld in certain instances because some matters were of a sensitive nature. However, he assured that full transparency will come at the appropriate time but not before, since it will jeopardise these ongoing court matters.
The Attorney General said the Government was obliged to pay legal fees inherited from 2010 to 2015. He noted that from 2010 to 2015, the then PP Government would have spent $444,444, and there was an outstanding debt of $141,378, which his Ministry inherited.
From 2015 to March 2021, the Office of the Attorney General spent $387,985, and of that sum, $147,931, was spent on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The AG clarified that the $387,985, spent from 2015 to March 2021 included civil litigation, criminal investigation, forensic audits, investigations into surveying, terrorism matters, and cross jurisdiction criminal matters.
The AG revealed that there is an "extremely large corruption claim which is the subject of cross-jurisdictional investigation. That matter involves litigation, including civil litigations in the courts of T&T, which include the current year." Another matter includes a large-scale international investigation involving cross jurisdictional bribery claims in T&T in a non-Commonwealth jurisdiction. This matter is at a very sensitive stage. The Piarco civil proceeding from 2004 is also an ongoing matter for which legal fees cannot be disclosed. The AG said no work on this matter was done during the period 2010-2015 and an indictment is expected to be filed soon.
AG Al-Rawi confirmed that he has recused himself from the management of the Clico investigation since he once held a Directorship at the Clico Investment Bank.