The Trinidadian Government has been awarded more than US$132 million in damages in the 19-year-old Piarco International Airport civil asset forfeiture case, according to the final judgment issued in the Miami-Dade circuit court by Judge Reemberto Diaz.
The money will have to be paid by former government minister Brian Kuei Tung and businessmen Steve Ferguson and Raul Gutierrez Jr, the three defendants in a case in which they were found to have violated Florida’s Racketeering and Influence Corruption Organization (RICO) Act statutes and were also liable for fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.
The Trinidad and Tobago government had alleged that Gutierrez – the former principal of Calmaquip Engineering Corporation, which provided specialized equipment at the Piarco International Airport -, Ferguson and Kuei Tung had conspired with others to corrupt the bidding process on two construction packages as well as the maintenance contract for the airport.
On March 29, a jury found the three were liable for multiple claims arising from the airport redevelopment and recommended US$32,385,988 in damages. However, Judge Diaz’s final judgment of US$97,157,964 trebled the damages of the verdict amount, based on the jury’s RICO Act claims.
He added interest of US$38,906,164.65 minus US$3,565,010 “which constitutes set-off from paid settlements and restitution to plaintiff”, resulting in a total judgment amount of US$132,499,118.65.
“The final judgment amount will continue to bear interest at the legal rate of interest, beginning on the day following the entry of this final judgment, through and including the date on which defendants satisfy the final judgment amount,” the judge said.
He added that the court retained jurisdiction over this matter and was entitled to enter further orders or judgment “that are proper, including, without limitation, awarding such attorney’s fees and costs as plaintiff may be entitled to pursuant to any timely-filed motion.”