Ferguson seeks injunction to stop Miami US$131m judgment recovery

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Steve Ferguson –

BUSINESSMAN Steve Ferguson is seeking to stop the State from pursuing discovery applications in a United States court as it seeks to enforce a multi-million-dollar RICO-case judgment to recover US$131 million arising out of the Piarco International Airport expansion project decades ago.

Ferguson has refused to provide his financial information in the US proceedings.

In December 2023, he filed an application in the High Court in TT for an injunction to prevent the State from enforcing the US judgment.

On March 13, the injunction application came up for hearing before Justice Nadia Kangaloo. Newsday requested permission to attend the hearing, but there was only an acknowledgement and no link was provided or reason given.

Up to late Wednesday, the hearing, which began at 12.30 pm, was still taking place.

Notice of the injunction application is uploaded on the Miami-Dade Eleventh Circuit Court docket as part of a consent order to give the State more time to respond.

It said Ferguson started the constitutional proceedings seeking, “amongst other things, orders for the matter to be deemed urgent and for orders prohibiting the ROTT from pursuing the Florida discovery applications.”

After the application was filed, it was docketed to Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell, with a hearing fixed for January. Before the assignment to Donaldson-Honeywell, Justice Ricky Rahim deemed it fit for an urgent hearing and ordered that the State be given notice. He also set a timetable for filing affidavits before the injunction hearing by Donaldson-Honeywell.

However, the judge recused herself from hearing the injunction application after a request was made for her to step down from the matter, so the January hearing was vacated. It was then reassigned to Kangaloo.

In the notice on the US’s court docket, the State, at the time, was said to be taking instructions in response to Ferguson’s assertions from the attorneys representing Trinidad and Tobago in the Miami case as well as former attorney general Faris Al-Rawi, the Government’s representative.

It also said the State has agreed to postpone enforcement of the Florida court’s judgment pending the final disposal of the injunction application.

On May 15, 2023, 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 2023, 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.

Ferguson has appealed the Florida court’s judgment in the Third District Court of Appeal.

The State is represented by Joseph Middleton, KC, Douglas Mendes, SC, Michael Quamina, SC, Simon de la Bastide, Sashi Indarsingh and Clay Hackett.

Ferguson is represented by Edward Fitzgerald, KC, Fyard Hosein, SC, Sasha Bridgemohansingh and Annette Mamchan.