Ferguson wants Justice Kangaloo to step down from his lawsuit

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Steve Ferguson –

BUSINESSMAN Steve Ferguson wants the High Court judge assigned to his constitutional complaint alleging a “pattern of misconduct” by the State in the claim against him in Miami, to recuse herself.

Ferguson’s application was filed on May 29, after Justice Nadia Kangaloo dismissed his applications for injunctions which sought to prevent the State from enforcing the US judgment.

Kangaloo will hear oral submissions on the recusal application in October.

She also set timelines for filing of evidence and propositions of law at a virtual hearing on July 8.

In March, Ferguson failed to get the Miami court to block the disclosure of his assets as the State seeks to enforce a multi-million dollar US Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (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. He has objected to almost every question or request by asserting his right to avoid self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.

He also complained that requiring him to disclose his assets would infringe his right not to incriminate himself in criminal proceedings against him in the US and TT.

In his High Court claim, Ferguson contends that the institution of the Miami civil case against him violated his rights to due process and protection of the law. His lawsuit also complained of the evidence admitted in the case in Miami and contended it was another attempt by the State to harass him and his family. It also said the decision to institute the foreign proceedings was unfair given the various prosecutions in the TT courts.

On May 15, 2023, Miami district court judge Reemberto 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 RICO law.

Justice Nadia Kangaloo –

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 and on May 6, the Third District Court of Appeal lifted an earlier stay it granted clearing the way for the case to continue before Diaz. A hearing has been fixed for July 18. When Ferguson’s lawsuit was filed in the High Court, Newsday understands it was docketed to Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell. Before the assignment to Donaldson-Honeywell, Justice Ricky Rahim deemed it fit for an urgent hearing and ordered that the State be given notice. However, Donaldson-Honeywell recused herself from hearing the injunction application after a request was made for her to step down from the matter. It was then reassigned to Kangaloo.

Ferguson is represented by Edward Fitzgerald, KC, Joseph Middleton, KC, Fyard Hosein, SC, Adaam Hosein and Annette Mamcham.

Representing the State are Douglas Mendes, SC, Michael Quamina, SC, Simon de La Bastide, SC, Clay Hackett and Sashi Indarsingh.