Moonilal hires Queen's Counsel for Rowley lawsuit

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal has confirmed that he has hired Queen's Counsel Richard Clayton to head the defence team in a libel lawsuit filed against him by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley over allegations he made in Parliament connecting Dr Rowley to the A&V fake oil scandal.

Speaking to the media at the Smara Cancer support group fashion show and tea party held at Naparima College Sunday, Moonilal said Clayton has long been recognised as an authority in the fields of Administrative Law, Human Rights & Civil Liberties and Local Government and is the author of many of the standard texts used in law.

"I have confirmed a few hours ago that my defence team will be led by Richard Clayton Queen's Counsel and will include Anand Ramlogan senior counsel and former attorney general. Clayton will be leading the defence team and I expect within a few days he will be in Trinidad and we will have a proper conference with him. We fear absolutely nothing concerning that lawsuit," Moonilal said.

Saying he was extremely excited about the lawsuit, Moonilal said, "I am eager to hear Dr Rowley in the witness box on this matter. Apart from that I will like to read the foundation of such a claim given the legal,l constitutional and political interest in  this matter."

Moonilal said he also took note of a newspaper report indicating that the cheques in question appear to be fraudulent.

"I am happy to read that because it may well be that I have uncovered a fraud ring involving counterfeit cheques, forgery, and identity theft. The businessmen said they never knew of this for an entire year. I am happy that some good has already come out of this because those business people could have been swindled, embezzled and robbed for a very long time by persons who are up to no good out there," Moonilal said.

He added, "It may well be that there are people out there printing cheque books with machines that can stamp the monies and of course counterfeit documents. They have monetary instruments that are being peddled which are counterfeit so following my statement in the Parliament we have already reaped something positive."

If the cheques are fake, Moonilal said there was still room for criminal charges against fraudsters.

"The matters are not connected directly to the Prime Minister but if it is fake it suggests there is a counterfeit ring out there doing some dastardly acts and that by itself is a serious criminal offense. If someone is signing off cheques and peddling off cheques as if it belongs to companies in question then this is a serious matter."

Saying pieces of the puzzle are coming together, Moonilal said the Financial Intelligence Unit, the police, and other international agencies should look into the matter. He reiterated that all evidence related to the fake oil scandal must be preserved and all those implicated should be charged.

"The Opposition Leader has written to the Commissioner of Police indicating that files, documents, witness statements ought to be secured. Moonilal also pointed out that once Petrotrin is closed down and a new company is formed,  Petrotrin will never be able to file a civil suit against A&V Drilling.

"That is a fascinating realization that people have not understood yet. I am not saying that this is why Petrotrin is being closed down but once it closes there will never ever be a claimant in a civil suit against AV Drilling or any other entity or person who will be liable."

- by Radhica De Silva