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Manatt mystery deepens

Published:Thursday | April 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Harold C.W. Brady of Brady and Company.

The Manatt, Phelps & Phillips mystery has deepened, with the American law firm contradicting claims by local officials that it has never worked for the Government of Jamaica.

In an amendment filed with the United States Department of Justice, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips reported that it "ceased activities on behalf of the government of Jamaica through Harold C.W. Brady of Brady and Company as of February 8, 2010".

The amendment was filed on March 18. That was two days after Opposition Member of Parliament Dr Peter Phillips ignited a firestorm when he first raised the issue in the House of Representatives.

JLP stands firm

Since then, government officials have been vehement in their denial of claims that the firm was contracted to do work on behalf of Jamaica.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding and Information Minister Daryl Vaz, who have led the administration's defence, have challenged anyone to provide proof that the firm was contracted by the Government.

They have also demanded explanations from local attorney Brady and proof of his claim that what he described as an error in the documents filed with the US Department of Justice was corrected.

However, the amendment posted by Manatt is well short of a correction and should provide more ammunition for the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), which has argued that there is something "fishy" in the arrangements.

The PNP has demanded answers to several questions related to the deal and has warned that it will pose the questions in Parliament if answers are not presented shortly.

Among the questions the Opposition wants answered is if the firm was contracted to deal with the extradition request for Christopher 'Dudus' Coke and who paid the US$100,000 fee to Manatt.

Last night Golding, on his radio talk show Jamaica House Live, told listeners he has asked Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne to request a declaration from the courts on whether she had taken the right decision in not granting Coke's extradition to the US to face drug and weapons charges.

In the meantime, Vaz told yesterday's post-Cabinet media briefing that he had received word from Solicitor General Douglas Leys that a response to documents submitted by Brady would be announced soon.

Leys was asked by the Government to examine documents submitted by Brady, which should prove his argument that the US law firm's claim that it was acting on behalf of Jamaica was an error which was corrected last year.