T&T Panama Papers subject to sue paper

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Embattled former UN Congress member Ken Emrith is mounting High Court action against the Express newspapers concerning an April 24 story about him.

The newspaper made allegations about Emrith three weeks ago arising from the Panama Papers. That package involved leaked documents from the law firm of Mossack Fonseca on many personalities, including businesspeople, worldwide.

Emrith’s attorney Larry Lalla said Emrith is seeking damages for libel, an injunction to restrain the newspaper from further publishing the said or any similar libel about Emrith, plus costs.

Alternatively, Emrith is seeking an apology and an undertaking not to repeat the allegations, damages and costs.

Lalla’s said his letter to the Express was a response to a “scathing, unfounded and highly irresponsible attack contained in the article.” He said Emrith was brought into odium, disrepute and his reputation suffered irreparable damage, adding his safety as well as that of his family has also been affected.

The letter stated Emrith was “for many years a business strategic consultant to several local and international companies” and between 2003 and 2010, the CEO of the Concacaf Centre of Excellence.

It stated that between 1996 and 2003 he was also the executive director of the School Nutrition Program with an average annual budget of $107 million and spearheaded and developed a strategic plan for the program along with the Ministry of Finance to provide daily lunches to underprivileged children.

It also addressed claims in the Sunday story against Emrith stating:

  • The business transaction concerned was not a “backroom deal” nor did it constitute an act of “explosive bribery” performed by a “shady functionary”.
  • Emrith was at all material times legitimately and properly engaged by Gruppo Campari to provide professional consulting services to facilitate a US$495 million international business transaction.
  • The alleged “US$2.5 million kickback” fee represents the payment properly and fairly for consultation services in accordance with the terms of his engagement.

Emrith was also mentioned in an April 27 Miami Herald story concerning Panama Papers revelations, this time involving allegations that a Haitian Investment Centre official – Georges Rene – lobbied for a proposal to forge a petroleum deal with T&T and set up offshore entities that could cash in on the petroleum deal.

The Herald said a Haitian delegation visited National Petroleum Marketing in T&T to discuss a possible deal for petroleum products. The article alleged a Panamanian shell company called Pendrey Associates was also involved. However, the article stated the alleged “oil deal between Trinidad and Haiti fizzled.”