Black Immigrant Daily News
Attorney General Reginald Armour. – FILE PHOTO/JEFF K MAYERS
OPPOSITION UNC is demanding an immediate investigation into the conduct of Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, following Wednesday’s decision by a US appellate court which affirmed his disqualification as Trinidad and Tobago’s representative in the multi-million-dollar civil asset forfeiture case linked to the construction of the Piarco Airport terminal building 22 years ago.
In a statement on Thursday, the UNC said the AG’s conduct must be investigated to determine whether charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and misconduct in public office should be laid. The UNC said his resignation was not enough.
On Wednesday, Judges Eric Hendon, Monica Gordo and Alexander Bokor, sitting in the Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal, affirmed the April ruling of Circuit Court judge Reemberto Diaz who approved a motion to disqualify Armour and Sequor Law, the law firm previously representing TT in Miami, from representing the Government.
The motion before Diaz was filed by attorneys for former government minister Brian Kuei Tung – who Armour once represented in TT – to strike out the lawsuit and disqualify the AG and the law firm. Also supporting the motion was businessman Steve Ferguson. Both men were represented by attorneys in the US court.
In the two-page ruling, the judges referred to cases on the disqualification of counsel which leaves it to the “sound discretion of the trial court,” once made within the confines of applicable law and expressed or implied findings, supported by evidence.
The judges opined the burden of proof was met to support the disqualification of Armour and Sequor Law.
The UNC said the ruling of the US appellate court had spoken with a unanimous voice in condemnation of Armour’s behaviour.
The UNC said the disqualification and the ruling of the appellate court was “a slap in the face of the Government.”
“Never before, in the history of Trinidad and Tobago, has an attorney general caused such great international shame and embarrassment to his country, government and profession.
“This was not a run-of-the-mill matter – it was an important, politically sensitive and politically driven case against a former Prime Minister, government Ministers and high-profile businessmen.
The UNC said Armour had lost all credibility and “must go.”
“As the titular head of the Bar no less, he is no longer believable.” The Opposition also questioned if there were possible violations of the legal profession code of ethics.
“Armour has compromised the Office of the Attorney General and the Government itself.”
The UNC also called for disclosure of how much was paid in legal fees to Sequor Law by the Government for its services in this matter.
“All of that money has now gone to waste because it was tainted by Armour’s conflict of interest which resulted in his disqualification from representing the State of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago any further in the case.”
In November last year, the Opposition Leader told a UNC Monday Night Forum the Miami law firm was paid $29.324 million to represent TT in the civil case in Miami.
The Opposition also wants to know the name of the firm that has replaced Sequor Law, how it was selected and the fees paid so far.
“Armour’s misconduct has cost this country dearly.”
Government sources told Newsday on Thursday, the civil trial is set to begin on March 6 in Miami while the Appeal Court’s ruling will be further appealed.
Preliminary arguments in the civil trial will take place on February 24.
In explaining what led to his disqualification, Armour said he disclosed his apparent conflict of interest to Sequor Law, at his initial meeting on March 30, two weeks after his appointment as AG, and was relying on the firm’s legal advice.
He signed off on several related matters, including an agreement for a cooperating witness to testify against the Piarco accused in criminal proceedings in TT, and the settlement of invoices of the law firm, among other matters.
In a sworn affidavit, Armour claimed he was “walled off” by the law firm after he disclosed he had been one of Kuei Tung’s lawyers. He described himself in that affidavit as a junior lawyer who had a minimal role in Kuei Tung’s defence.
On June 20, 2022, Armour admitted to a memory lapse when he filed his affidavit on April 24, 2022, and was prepared to correct the record on April 27, while the US court was sitting to hear the motions, even though he was on vacation in Europe at that time.
In June last year, the Law Association launched an investigation into the AG’s conduct and its membership voted against a motion of no confidence in him in June 2022.