Even as businessmen Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh made a last-ditch effort in the High Court during the wee hours of yesterday morning to avoid extradition, they may not be extradited to the United States until October 18. In a statement yesterday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said the US Government has indicated that authorities there would not be in a position to arrange for the departure of the former UNC financiers until next week Monday. "Today (Columbus Day) is a public holiday in the USA and certain internal administrative procedures and arrangements must be complied with," the release said. The statement came hours after Ferguson and Galbaransingh, through their attorneys, filed a last-minute application late Saturday for a stay of their extradition.
The ex parte matter came up before justice Vashist Kokaram on Saturday night and at the end of lengthy legal arguments by attorneys Fyard Hosein, SC, and Nyree Alfonso, the judge dismissed the application for a further stay. It was earlier on Saturday that Ramlogan signed the extradition order, granting the US Government's request to have both men answer alleged corruption charges. They face a total of 95 charges arising out of the construction of the $1.6 billion Piarco Airport terminal building. The defendants' lawyers claimed it was through the media on Saturday that they found out Ramlogan had signed the order. The attorneys also presented a news release from the AG's office in support of their application.
But the judge said he was "loath" to act on the news release which, he said, purported to be a decision of the AG. The judge also held that it was unfortunate that no representative from the AG's office could be contacted to provide clarification for the applicants. The matter ended around 12.30 am. But seeking to clarify his position yesterday, Ramlogan, in a release, said the decision to extradite the defendants was communicated to their lawyers yesterday. He said he was not aware of the ex parte application by the applicants. He said the applicants' lawyers wrote him yesterday, requesting a stay of his extradition decision.
"The Attorney General has indicated that he is unable to give his consent to the requested stay of execution of his extradition decision," the statement said. "The Attorney General has informed the US Government of his decision to accede to the requested extradition." Ramlogan also noted that the US Government indicated that it would not be in a position to arrange for the departure of the defendants until October 18. Late yesterday, attorneys for the two accused businessmen received an official letter from the AG's department also stating he (the AG) had been advised by the US government that authorities there would not be in a position to arrange for their clients' departure from Trinidad until October 18.
"This means that your clients will suffer no prejudice as there will be ample opportunity for them to approach the court if they so desire," the AG's letter to the attorneys added.