Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Simpson Miller subpoenaed

Published:Wednesday | June 1, 2016 | 6:00 AMLivern Barrett
Simpson Miller

THE DOCUMENT believed to be at the centre of the near five-year delay in the Trafigura case has been at the Supreme Court registry since December 2011, a prosecutor revealed yesterday.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Andrea Martin Swaby made the disclosure moments before a High Court judge, critical of the delays in the case, ordered that a subpoena be issued for People's National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller, compelling her to appear in court next Monday.

Simpson Miller's lead attorney K.D. Knight signalled late yesterday that she would attend court, if served with a subpoena.

"We honour whatever comes out of the court at any level," he told The Gleaner.

Justice Lennox Campbell also ordered that subpoenas be issued for PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill, PNP Region Three Chairman Phillip Paulwell, PNP member Colin Campbell and businessman Norton Hinds to attend court next Monday.

 

UNFORTUNATE SITUATION

 

The subpoenas were ordered after the case, which was last adjourned on November 16, 2011, failed to get under way in the Supreme Court yesterday. Hinds, who was answering questions from prosecutors, acting on behalf of their counterparts in the Netherlands, did not turn up for court.

The nation's chief prosecutor, Paula Llewellyn, who was also in court, said the "whole situation was unfortunate".

"We have been at a loss as to what to tell the Netherlands why this matter has gone on so long," said Llewellyn, the director of public prosecutions.

Retracing the history of the case, Swaby told the court that in December 2014, Knight and other attorneys indicated that an outstanding transcript was preventing them from appealing an earlier ruling by Campbell.

"We looked at the file and saw that it [the transcript] was at the court and stamped December 2011," the prosecutor revealed.

 

STANDING COURT ORDER

 

But Knight said he was not aware that the transcript was available. "I wish we had known," he insisted.

Despite this, Knight said he was in possession of a court order that bars Campbell from continuing the case until his appeal is heard.

"I have before me an order of the highest court in the land, the Court of Appeal, and it says 'appeal allowed'. Proceedings before Campbell J stayed pending the determination of claim ... ," he said of a court order obtained from the appeal court dated December 8, 2011.

Authorities in the Netherlands have been trying - through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions - to get answers from the five under oath about a $31-million donation made by the Dutch firm Trafigura Beheer to the PNP in 2006 while it formed the Government.

Trafigura had an oil-lifting contract with the Government at the time of the donation.

The case was adjourned in November 2011 after attorneys for the five indicated that they planned to mount constitutional challenges to a court order compelling their clients to give answers and that it be done in open court.

The challenges were dismissed by the constitutional court in September 2012, but the attorneys signalled that they would take their case to the appeal court.

However, according to Swaby, when the appeals were set to be heard in December 2014, Knight informed the court that his clients would only proceed with their appeal of Campbell's decision to have them answer questions in open court.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com