A company associated with UNC financier Krishna Lalla cannot immediately recover $1.5 million judgment debt owed to it by former government minister Jack Warner.
Delivering an oral ruling at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain on Friday, Justice of Appeal Nolan Bereaux granted Warner and his companies Dr Joao Havelenge Centre of Excellence, Renraw Investments and CCAM and Company, a stay of a lawsuit brought by Real Time Systems Limited and Lalla.
The stay will remain pending the determination of Warner’s appeal of a judgment of Justice Frank Seepersad, who in May ordered Warner to repay the $1.5 million.
The appeal is expected to come up for hearing on March 22, next year.
The lawsuit centred around a series of payments made to Warner’s companies between October and November 2007.
In his ruling, Seepersad said based on the evidence, on a balance of probabilities, “it was more likely than not,” Lalla advanced to Warner significant sums as part of a loan arrangement.
The company from which Lalla sourced the funds — Real Time Systems Ltd — filed a lawsuit against Warner, and his companies, seeking to retrieve the “loan” to the former FIFA vice president, prior to the general election campaign in 2007.
Warner, in defence of the lawsuit, said it was for campaign financing since he told Lalla of the challenge to obtain financiers for the party.
Warner said several businesses were selected to receive financing from Lalla to assist the party in the 2007 general election. He denied it was a loan.
In his judgement, Seepersad said that all the evidence including email correspondence between Lalla and Warner suggested that the money was transferred as part of a loan arrangement.
“On a balance of probabilities, this court is of the view that Mr Warner may have wanted to portray an image to the UNC, that he was its main financier but to do so, he sourced finance from Mr Lalla, on the basis and expectation that the sums advanced, would be repaid upon his receipt of an anticipated payment of a US$10 million Fifa payment, due in February 2008,” Seepersad said in his ruling.
Warner was represented by John Jeremie, SC, Keith Scotland, Asha Watkins-Montserin, Raisa Caesar and Jacqueline Chang. Lalla and the company were represented by Neal Bisanth and Lydia Mendonca.