DIPCON US$2M judgement: Govt continues to flout authority of Judiciary

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…Court cannot enforce order against Finance Minister – AG

In the wake of the Court throwing out Finance Minister Winston Jordan’s application to stay a Court order that he either pay or go to jail, Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams believes that the minister cannot be touched because of his status as a minister.

In a brief interview with INews, AG Williams – who defended Jordan in Court along with Roysdale Forde— remained adamant that the judicial arm of Government cannot force the minister to pay Dipcon Engineering Services the money it won in a Court judgement since 2015.

“We’re looking at it. We think the Court has overreached,” Williams told this publication. “There’s a clear rule that says that you can’t go against a minister with a coercive order, nor can you levy against the (Government)”.

Attorney General, Basil Williams

“So, we’ll see those things,” Williams added after being asked what will happen on Monday— the deadline given by the Court order handed down for the minister to pay Dipcon US$2 million or be jailed.

Last month, High Court Judge Justice Sewnarine-Beharry had ordered Minister Jordan to pay DIPCON the US$2.2 Million award or face jail time. The Trinidad-based construction company had taken the Finance Minister to Court for failing to honour the payment of millions of dollars, which was awarded to DIPCON by Justice Rishi Persaud in 2015.

After DIPCON took the Government to Court back in 2009 to recover monies owed for road works done, Justice Rishi Persaud had ordered Government to pay the company US$665,032.17 as payment for the works done, along with US$1,563,368.50 for costs it incurred for those works, together with interest on both amounts, at a rate of six per cent annum from February 10, 2009, to October 21, 2015 and thereafter at the rate of four per cent per annum until fully paid.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan

However, since none of the payments that were owed were made, DIPCON had successfully approached the High Courts for an administrative order to compel the minister to make the payment.

The Government has previously claimed that the previous Government had outsourced the case and that when the coalition got into office, it was taken by surprise with the matter. But former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has repeatedly explained that when he left office, he briefed his successor on all outstanding matters.

According to Nandlall, the AG failed to file an appeal of the High Court’s judgement in time, but rather, filed an application several months late asking for an extension of time. This application was denied by the Court.