AG: No $$ for Auditor General’s lawsuit against me

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Attorney General Reginald Armour SC. – (FILE PHOTO)

The Attorney General says the only legal cost his office will cover for the Auditor General is for her lawsuit on the interpretation of the Exchequer and Audit Act.

Reginald Armour, SC, says his office will not cover the cost of Auditor General Jaiwantie Ramdass’ legal action against him.

Ramdass filed a lawsuit on May 7 against the Office of the AG surrounding the constitutional impasse involving her report on the public accounts of TT for the 2023 financial year.

On April 26, Finance Minister Colm Imbert moved a motion in Parliament to extend the period of time specified under Sections 24 and 25 of the Audit and Exchequer Act for the completion of the country’s financial accounts for 2023. At that time, Imbert said Ramdass refused to accept information correcting a $2.6 billion understatement in the country’s revenue for 2023. During the debate on that day, Armour said although the Government had sent a pre-action protocol letter to Ramdass, the 2023 report was completed without the amended figure.

At a post-cabinet media briefing on Thursday, the AG was careful when speaking on matters regarding Ramdass.

He said, “Out of respect for the judicial process, I think it is prudent, as a defendant in court proceedings, to restrain myself from commenting on those court proceedings.”

The AG said, in the reporting he has read on the matter, “There has been a significant degree of sensationalisation, that has not attempted to report accurately on the true facts.”

Armour made reference to the specific aspect of this development.

Armour said the Auditor General wrote to him on April 17, asking for legal representation (to give an opinion) on Sections 24 and 25 of the Exchequer and Audit Act, Chapter 69:01.

After seeking legal advice, on April 19, the AG replied to the Auditor General in a letter stating, “I recommend that with all appropriate urgency, that you should retain independent legal counsel to give you such advice.

“I give the undertaking, as AG, that I am prepared to pay reasonable fees incurred by you as Auditor General for the retention and obtaining of that independent advice.”

The AG said the reporting he read says he has refused to pay for legal fees for the Auditor General.

“That is not correct.”

He reiterated, “I was very clear, throughout, in my correspondence regarding my willingness to pay the reasonable legal cost, as it related to the retention of counsel, for the advice sought by the Auditor General.

“Any reports to the contrary are erroneous and I fear appear deliberately to mislead.”

Armour said he received correspondence from Anand Ramlogan’s Freedom Chambers asking him to foot a larger bill.

“I have made it very clear that I have a duty to make sure the public purse is managed responsibly and I reiterate my commitment to pay legal fees for that which the Auditor General requested an opinion on the Sections 24 and 25 of the Exchequer and Audit Act and beyond that, I am not prepared to commit public purse to any more fees.”