Ferguson fails again to avoid revealing assets in US case

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Businessman Steve Ferguson –

BUSINESSMAN Steve Ferguson has been denied a stay of an order to disclose his assets as the State seeks to enforce its US$131.3 million judgment against him, former finance minister Brian Kuei Tung, and United States (US) businessman Raul Guiterrez Jr by a Florida appeal court.

On May 6, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal refused Ferguson’s motion and lifted the temporary stay.

In April, the Miami judge, Reemberto Diaz, hearing the State’s case against Ferguson and the others, denied a similar motion. He appealed and received a temporary stay pending the Appeal Court’s ruling.

In March, Diaz overruled all of Ferguson’s objections to the State’s discovery requests and gave him until April 8 to comply with the disclosure orders.

Ferguson was also unsuccessful in an injunction application against the State in the local courts.

Ferguson has objected to almost every question or request by asserting his right to avoid self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.

He sought, “amongst other things, orders for the matter to be deemed urgent and for orders prohibiting the ROTT (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) from pursuing the Florida discovery applications.”

It also sought to prevent the State from deposing certain witnesses, including his son and daughter who live in Florida, to provide information identifying assets he purportedly owned or held interest in there.

He complains that requiring him to disclose his assets would infringe his right not to incriminate himself in criminal proceedings against him in the US and Trinidad and Tobago.

The State, in resisting the application, gave the assurance that any information received about Ferguson’s assets would be kept confidential and not disclosed to prosecuting authorities in the US and Trinidad and Tobago.

On May 15, 2023, Diaz entered final judgment for Trinidad and Tobago in the racketeering case against Ferguson, former UNC minister Brian Kuei Tung and US businessman Raul Guiterrez Jnr for US$131,318,840.47.

The final judgment followed a jury’s verdict in March 2023, which led to Trinidad and Tobago 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.

After the jury’s finding and the judge’s ruling, the State filed a motion to compel Ferguson to disclose his assets.