Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, on Wednesday deflected questions on his role in the Miami fraud case against former government minister Brian Kuei Tung and others linked to the construction of the Piarco Airport terminal building, saying he did not want to create any loophole for the accused to escape justice.
In his maiden press conference at the Attorney General’s office, Richmond Street, Port of Spain since being appointed on March 16, Armour said he would not be baited to comment further on his disqualification from the US case, so as not to create a Section 34 escape route for those awaiting trial.
His reference to Section 34 is related to an amendment of the Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous) Bill in 2014 by the former People’s Partnership administration which would purportedly have changed the law in favour of the airport accused. The legislation proposed people accused of serious crimes, including corruption, could apply to have their cases thrown out for want of prosecution after ten years had passed without the cases coming trial.
The then Opposition PNM led public rallies condemning the move and the government, led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar, repealed the law and fired justice minister Herbert Volney for misrepresenting the Cabinet on the berth of consultation of the proposed law.
Armour, 65, who replaced San Fernando West MP Faris Al-Rawi as attorney general in a surprise Cabinet shake-up, has been at the centre of a growing storm over his role in advising US lawyers to prosecute Kuei Tung and others even though he once represented the former minister in related criminal proceedings in Trinidad and Tobago.
On June 5, in a statement Armour claimed he disclosed his apparent conflict of interest to the US lawyers hired to prosecute Kuei Tung and others but admitted he signed off on related matters involving a co-operating witness, among other administrative issues.
In a sworn affidavit, he claimed he was a junior lawyer when he represented Kuei Tung in 2004 and took a minimal role as a legal researcher and note-taker.
His account conflicts with the public record, as Armour was then a senior counsel and played a major role as a criminal defence attorney.
He refused to answer any questions about the obvious differences and what steps he took to correct the court’s record about his deeper role in the airport case.
Earlier this week he issued a public statement saying he had misremembered his role and had tried to submit a corrected affidavit a month ago, shortly after the first one.
He faces a possible vote of no confidence by the legal fraternity and the opposition intends to debate a motion of no confidence against him in the House of Representatives.