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High Court reserves ruling in case involving former Miss Universe

Wednesday, December 04, 2013    

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Court of Appeal has reserved its ruling in a case in which several people, including former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam, are challenging whether the State is free to proceed with a TT$30 million lawsuit against them.

William, who won the international pageant in 1998, had, along with other former directors of the state-owned Evolving Technologies and Enterprise Development Company (eTeck), argued that the claim by the State was filed after the four-year statutory limitation period.

But the High Court in October cleared the way for the Trinidad and Tobago Government to pursue the multi-million dollar lawsuit.

Court of Appeal judges, Justices Maureen Rajnauth-Lee and Gregory Smith, on Monday reserved their ruling after hearing submissions by attorneys representing the State as well as former board members.

Justice Devindra Rampersad in a ruling in the San Fernando High Court, south of here, had agreed with the contention by the State that it only found the alleged breaches by boards after the change in government.

The judge in his 22 page ruling in October said it would be "highly unlikely and most improbable" for the breaches to have been found otherwise, adding "public scrutiny of public posts must exist to secure public funds".

In the lawsuit, filed in 2011, the State alleges the eight-member eTeck board which also included former chairman Professor Ken Julien and Professor Brian Copeland, had entered into a TT$30 million agreement with the Chinese-based company, Bamboo Network Ltd, between January 18 and May 17, 2005, without carrying out a due diligence exercise into the company's financial records beforehand.

The directors in March last year filed an application to have the lawsuit struck out, saying it was an abuse of process as it was statute-barred under the Limitations of Certain Actions Act.

In defence of the claim, the State relied on Section 14 of the legislation, which postpones the limitation period when facts have been deliberately concealed.

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