Faris Faux Pas

52 Cases Hanging and Legislation rejected- July 2015

  • In July 2015, AG Faris Al Rawi proposed legislation to address the 52 part-heard matters which hung in abeyance since the resignation of Marcia Ayers-Caesar in an effort to prevent similar scenarios from reoccurring, however abandoned this course of action soon after as the opposition rejected it. The opposition leader instead suggested a solution could be found under section 137 of the Constitution which speaks to the setting up of a Tribunal to investigate the conduct of the Chief Justice.
  • Ayers-Caesar then sought to have the interpretation summons filed by the AG struck out against her, with her attorney, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj claiming that the summons was an abuse of process against his client and that Al Rawi and the court had no jurisdiction.
  • The AG said that the interpretation summons was filed in the public’s interest as the rights of the accused under the unfinished cases were being violated.
  • Since then, it is uncertain how many of the 52 part-heard cases have been resolved.

AG’s Children Improperly Handle Guns- October 2015

  • In October 2015, AG Faris Al Rawi’s children were photographed improperly handling high powered military guns at the Cumuto facility. The TTDF remarked that they were in fact the AG’s children but were disallowed from handling the guns belonging to it. Contrary to this, Major Al Alexander commented that the children were not allowed to partake in the exercise but their curiousity allowed them to interact with the weapons.
  • The Prime Minister also clarified that they were in fact his children and that the photos were a serious breach of security on the part of the Defence Force, but the AG never admitted to the photographed children being his own.

The Ganja Statement- May 2016

“As attorney general, I strongly believed that we as a country needed to look towards the decriminalization of marijuana.”- Faris Al Rawi

  • In May 2016, the Prime Minister commented on the decriminalization of marijuana saying that the matter wasn’t discussed with Cabinet and as such the Government was not examining it at that time. The AG took matters into his own hand, without consensus at Cabinet level for the proposal, and without making a pronouncement on it.
  • He consulted with the CJ, DPP, acting CoP, religious heads, psychiatrists, foreign partners and legal colleagues on the issue, acknowledging that he received a substantial amount of data to support the decriminalization. But when asked about his position, he asserted that his ministry was reviewing several laws, including the Dangerous Drugs Act and that any studies, statistic-gathering and consultations would not be an overnight process with snap decision making.

Mark my words carefully- July 2016

  • In July 2016, Faris Al Rawi expressed that his statement about $12 billion in uncollected VAT was portrayed out of context by the media and the context needed to be understood. He clarified that he was highlighting outstanding liabilities on VAT, speaking about the issue over several years and that the figure was a combination of events, “actual amounts due, interest, penalties on those amounts over a span of a number of years, including the estimation of what should have been in the system, but what was not in the system.”
  • The question about the collection of $12 billion that year was posed to Finance Minister, Colm Imbert, who was absent when the discussion took place, but expressed he had no idea how Al Rawi arrived at that figure. He explained that the State planned to regain a targeted $500 million in outstanding taxes via a tax amnesty.

Galicia reports still pending…-April 2017

  • Upon Al Rawi’s perusal of documents received by Works Minister Rohan Sinanan, that alluded to corruption in the Super Fast Galicia’s six month contract resulting in a two year assignment, the AG agreed to produce a comprehensive report and particulars about the corrupt practices of high office holders involved and as instructed by the Prime Minister, “to identify the culprits”.
  • He called for further documents as it related to the vessel’s procurement and transaction to assist in his investigation and make the relevant recommendations according to law. Reports are yet to be received.
  • Claims made against Nyree Alfonso that she was the broker used to acquire the Galicia were denied, saying that she assisted in the procurement of the vessel but has never been a broker in her life. She said that she used her expertise to source the vessels but did not participate in tender or evaluation and the Port Authority deemed the Galicia acceptable.

Opposition Mischief- October 2017

  • In October 2017, Al Rawi was accused by Dr. Roodal Moonilal who produced a series of text messages between Al Rawi and Mark Adams that alluded to the planting of recording devices in the office of opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen. Adams confessed to being contacted by Al Rawi several times in 2016 and agreed to break into the Senator’s office, as well as being bribed with $100,000 for the cellphone that contained the messages.
  • Al Rawi denied all claims. The Prime Minister called it “Opposition Obfuscation”.

ISIS Terror Cell- Yes, No, Uncertain, Hiding?- February 2018

  • In Parliament on February 16th 2018, the Prime Minister was asked of the existence of an ISIS Terror Cell operating in T&T, to which he responded with a simple “yes”.

  • He said, “Many of them have been intercepted in Turkey, in Britain, some have been returned to Trinidad and Tobago, some are in custody in foreign countries; persons who seek to join ISIS and in fact as ISIS has been dispersed in Iraq and Syria that doctrine now is spread to homeland activities and therefore we have to be particularly concerned about such persons and the monitoring of such persons is an integral part of our national security and the answer to the question is yes.”
  • Contrary to this, Al Rawi criticized media reports saying that there was no such acknowledgement by the PM. UNC MPs Suruj Rambachan, Rodney Charles and Barry Padarath all expressed that the PM’s statement of its admission was very clear and could be found live to review at any time on the internet and criticized the AG for his “game-playing”, contradictory statements as well as accused him of ulterior motives.

Sabbatical-Vacation Leave- March 2018

  • Al Rawi commented that “the papers are nearly finished in terms of settling” after he took the relevant steps to clarify whether such a leave existed for members of the Judiciary after CJ Ivor Archie applied for Sabbatical leave, before changing it to vacation leave when controversy ensued.
  • The AG said that they were expected to file in a couple of days at the High Court, asking for an interpretation, and then to proceed with the matter.
  • He makes mention of treating with the matter carefully as the Judiciary is independent in the arrangement of our democracy and if parties consent to treating with the matter on an expedited basis, it will certainly be expedited, making clear that “What is required is clarity in relation to the law and certainty to our constitutional arrangements so that we get this right moving forward.”

Land and Company Registries- March 2018

The AG rejected any claims that the Land and Company Registry is not operational on March 21st, 2018. He confessed to restrictions on the system the following month but assured that a manual system of checking at the registry had been undertaken. The system is operational and the online version will be getting a turbo boost, with over 5.8 million records being scanned and made accessible to the public online.

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