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Government discuss paying outstanding judgement claims

Attorney General Darshan Ramdhani – persons owed would be contacted by the government in due course

It has been approximately 21 years since a High Court Judge ordered the Government of Grenada to pay a sum of $1.5 million to Dorset Charles, whose beachside property was demolished after false claims that he had no permit to operate a business on the renowned Grand Anse Beach.

According to Barrister-at-Law, Anselm Clouden, who represented Charles in the matter, to date his client has not received a cent from the government, and the figure owed to Charles with interest over the years, has significantly “increased to more than $3 million dollars.”

Charles is among several persons who have successfully sued the Government of Grenada and obtained judgement claims running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In an interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Attorney General Darshan Ramdhani confirmed that based on recent statements made by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell that his administration has identified monies to pay out the outstanding claims, the Charles matter is among several others being considered at this time.

“I can’t speak to the facts…our Prime Minister has now said, look, we have identified some monies and we are examining how we are going to pay out because we have a few people (owing money)…so we are having discussions about how we are going to approach it,” Ramdhani said.

“It (the Dorset Charles claim) is one of (several) others that is engaging the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Finance that we are looking at in relation to the question of payment,” he added.

The Guyana-born Attorney General indicated that he was not in a position to say exactly when monies would be paid out to the parties involved. However, Ramdhani, who remained tight-lipped about the exact outstanding figures that are under discussion, gave assurances that “persons (owed monies) will be contacted in due course (about) when those payments are to be made” to them.

Government is owing the Trindad-based construction company, Dipcon Engineering over $20 million due to the decision in 1995 of Works Minister Gregory Bowen to terminate the contract that was signed with the former Congress government of the late Sir Nicholas Brathwaite.

The Mitchell-led government is currently locked in a legal battle at the level of the Court of Appeal with Shorn Braveboy and Lettisha Lessy Braveboy, who in May 2016, obtained a High Court judgment for $58, 250.00, with interests and cost against the State.

The law firm of Henry Henry & Bristol was retained by the parties and it got the court to grant a garnishee order against the Government of Grenada earlier this year, which has since been appealed by the Attorney General’s Chambers.

The garnishee order has paved the way for anyone with a money judgement against government to approach financial institutions where government accounts are held to obtain their monies.

Legal sources told this newspaper that such an order can affect government’s ability to meet its monthly obligations to persons and institutions especially public officers.

Earlier this year, the Mitchell government announced that it was in a position to commence payments on judgement claims by the end of February.

“We got over $108 million in grants…with this grant money we can now pay down on unpaid claims that were in the treasury. We can pay judgment claims that people who have sued the government in the past who are awaiting their money.

The cabinet has taken a decision to start paying this month,” said Minister responsible for Trade, Industry, Co-operatives and CARICOM Affairs, Oliver Joseph, who made the announcement at a Press Conference held mid-February.

THE NEW TODAY has been unable to confirm exactly how much monies, if any, have already been paid out towards judgement claims by the Government of Grenada since the announcement was made by Minister Joseph.

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