Persad-Bissessar questions Armour’s conduct in Miami court

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is accusing Attorney General Reginald Armour of lying under oath to a Miami court about his representation of clients in the Piarco matter. She said his recusal from the case has prompted a constitutional crisis as Trinidad and Tobago can only be represented in civil cases by the Attorney General. She wants him fired.

During the UNC’s Virtual Report on Monday, Persad-Bissessar said Armour was representing Brian Kuei Tung and others since 2002 in relation to matters arising out of the Piarco matter. She said after Armour’s appointment as AG in 2022, it was Keui Tung who filed a motion to disqualify Armour and the law firm Sequor Law, which was representing Trinidad and Tobago.

“The US judge agreed with the motion to disqualify Armour on the grounds that he was conflicted as he represented Keui Tung previously in the magistrates’ court in similar matters before the Florida court. He filed an affidavit and lied under oath. The judge also disqualified the firm Sequor Law on the grounds that they were working with and for Mr Armour.

“It is a blatant lie when he told the Florida court he recused himself. He and the lawyers in the US were fighting tooth and nail to remain on the matter. The simple fact is that the court is saying Armour cannot represent TT as the Attorney General as he is conflicted because he represented Mr Keui Tung in the past.”

Persad-Bissessar said under Section 76 (2) of TT’s Constitution, the administration of legal affairs in TT and legal proceedings for and against the State shall be taken in the name of the AG in civil proceedings.

“In an affidavit dated April 24, Armour swore that former AG Faris Al-Rawi was appointed as the special representative for the Miami matter, while Armour said ‘I expanded my recusal to include the entirety of the Miami lawsuit to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.’ What utter madness! You have admitted that you are conflicted and still wanted to continue the matter as AG.”

She said Al-Rawi’s portfolio as Minister of Rural Development and Local Government did not give him the power or responsibility for management of civil matters in a foreign jurisdiction on behalf of the state.

Persad-Bissessar said Armour stated he was not conflicted as he was junior counsel in the matter, who took notes and did minimal research. She said this was also a lie, and read from a document she said came from the Miami court.

“Whether you are junior or senior counsel or instructing attorney, you represented Mr Kuei Tung and would have had the instructions, which were privileged and confidential. You were listed as a SC during the preliminary enquiry, and gave written submissions on January 10, 2005, as well as in 2004, on March 11, May 26, May 27, June 15, June 30, July 1, December 15 and December 16.”

She said Armour stated that he did not participate in common defence meetings with other parties and their lawyers in the Piarco matter.

“The parties and the lawyers would have sat together and discussed the matter. They would even share confidential attorney-client information with each other because they have a common defence. Armour told the Miami court he never had these meetings, but Mr Steve Ferguson, on affidavit dated 26th April 2022, swore that he can confirm Mr Armour attended these common defence meetings.”

Persad-Bissessar called on the AG to answer several questions, including the extent of his involvement in the matter as AG.

“Did you give instructions on reviewing the memo? Did you discuss ‘dropping of certain claims, discussing witnesses and trial logistics, even signing a settlement agreement on behalf of the Republic of TT that was negotiated by Sequor Law’? Was there a settlement agreement that Mr Armour signed in the matter? How much money? What is the nature of that document? Did you sign that settlement knowing that you are conflicted?

“Why didn’t you inform the US court that you were previously the lawyer for the defendants? Who will now have the legal authority for management of the Miami matter, if the Attorney General is legally unable to do so because of section 76?”

She asked how much the US law firm White & Case LLP had been paid on retainer.

Persad-Bissessar called on the Law Association to investigate Armour for breaches of the Legal Profession Act  code of ethics.