PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – One of three men charged in connection with a legal fees kickback scheme which allegedly took place under the former Trinidad and Tobago government, pleaded guilty last week to corruption conspiracy after a High Court judge accepted his deal with prosecutors that will see him testifying against his co-accused.
Jamaica-born Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson, who allegedly conspired with former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and former United National Congress (UNC) Senator Gerald Rameen, will be sentenced on January 16, 2020.
Nelson, who was granted TT$100,000 (US$14,774) bail when he was first charged last month, will be allowed to leave the country and return for his sentencing.
His formal guilty plea to charges of conspiring to commit money laundering, misbehaviour in public office, and conspiracy to commit an act of corruption, was entered after Justice Malcolm Holdip said he would accept a plea agreement reached with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), in accordance with section 26 of the Criminal Procedure (Plea Discussion and Plea Agreement) Act.
The judge’s ruling came two days after he heard arguments from Nelson’s lawyers and DPP Roger Gaspard, SC, on why the deal for Nelson to get a lesser sentence in exchange for being the State’s key witness in the case against Ramlogan and Ramdeen, should be accepted by the court.
Ramlogan and Ramdeen are jointly charged with conspiracy to contravene the Prevention of Corruption Act; conspiracy to engage in money laundering; and conspiracy to misbehave in public office.
It’s alleged that Nelson gave Ramlogan sums of money for granting him State briefs, and that Ramdeen received, concealed and transferred property which Nelson gave to Ramlogan for State briefs, on various dates between October 1, 2010 and September 9, 2015, while Ramlogan served as Attorney General.
Ramlogan, who was granted TT$1.2 million (US$ 177,450) bail on the charges, and Ramdeen who was released on TT $1.5 million (US$ 221,812) bail, are due to return to court on June 28.