Businessman maintains silence in US$131m civil lawsuit – Ferguson ordered to appear in Miami court

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Steve Ferguson –

BUSINESSMAN Steve Ferguson has been ordered to appear in person for a special hearing on January 16, 2024, as TT seeks to recover US$131 million arising out of the Piarco International Airport expansion project decades ago.

The order was made on November 29. It says the case will be heard in courtroom 1202 at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, 73 West Flagler Street, courthouse and is expected to last two hours.

Ferguson has refused to provide his financial information in the multi-million dollar RICO case in Miami won by the State in March.

Ferguson has maintained his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to all but two of the questions on a fact information sheet (Florida Rule of Civil Procedure Form 1.977).

On May 15, Miami Circuit Court judge Reemeberto Diaz entered final judgment for TT in the racketeering case against Ferguson, former UNC minister Brian Kuei Tung and US businessman Raul Guitierrez Jr for US$131,318,840.47.

The final judgment followed a jury’s verdict in March which led to TT getting triple the damages it sought under US Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) law.

The Miami jury found Ferguson liable for multiple claims arising from the fraud linked to the redevelopment of the Piarco International Airport in the late 1990s and early 2000s,

Kuei Tung, a former minister of finance under the Basdeo Panday administration, and Gutierrez, the former principal of Calmaquip Engineering Corporation – which provided specialised equipment at the airport – were previously held liable in the racketeering case.

A Florida fact information sheet (Form 1.977 ) is a sworn financial affidavit a judgment debtor must fill out and send to the creditor after final judgment is entered and covers assets of both the debtor and their spouse. This forms part of the discovery process as the creditor pursues recovery of the court’s award.

In his fact information sheet, Ferguson gave his name, a Diego Martin address, and a telephone number.

On all other questions relating to his employment, pay, marital status, date of birth and those of his spouse, Ferguson invoked his right to “respectfully decline to provide responses” to the information sought on the fact sheet. He cited the US and TT Constitutions.

On September 11, TT filed an amended motion to compel Ferguson to respond to Form 1.977 after the businessman insisted in his response on August 29, that he was asserting his Fifth Amendment rights “regarding all questions on Form 1.977.”

Kuei Tung’s Form 1.977 was filed on August 30. In it, he gave a Fort Lauderdale address, a social security number, and his date of birth. He did not provide his employment or pay details and has “separated as his marital status. He also provided his “spouse’s” address in Moka, Maraval and a date of birth but no pay information.

According to the case file docket, subpoenas were issued for two of Kuei Tung’s relatives for the taking of videotaped depositions. The subpoenas warned if they failed to appear, they may be in contempt of court.

In response to the motion for him to provide his financial information, Ferguson maintained his responses to the fact sheet were “lawful and appropriate.”“As the court knows and as (TT) repeatedly asserted at trial, Mr Ferguson is under indictment in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida…

“The wide-ranging charges against Mr Ferguson include conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, wire fraud and money laundering.”

There are multiple counts against him, according to the indictment. In 2011, Ferguson was successful in having the court quash the decision to order his extradition to the US.