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Afra Raymond wins landmark transparency ruling in Trinidad and Tobago

Afra Raymond (Image courtesy of afraraymond.com)The high court of Trinidad and Tobago ruled that the minister of finance must publish details about the CL Financial bailout pursuant to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The FOIA case was brought by local anti-corruption activist Afra Raymond.

The collapse and subsequent state bailout of CL Financial in 2009 led to estimated losses of $25 billion, or around 10 percent of Trinidad & Tobago’s GDP.

CL Financial was a family-owned conglomerate and one of the biggest private companies in the Caribbean.

“Despite this substantial sum of public money being spent by public officials [to bail out CL Financial], details of the recipients of the funds and the reasons for the decisions being made remain shrouded in secrecy,” Disclosure Today, a transparency group, said in a statement emailed to the FCPA Blog. 

In May 2012, Raymond requested documents under Trinidad and Tobago’s Freedom of Information Act. The minister of finance refused to release the information.

Raymond asked for a court review in April 2013.

Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh ruled in favor of Raymond’s request on July 22 in a 21-page judgment.

Last week, Trinidad and Tobago’s Constitution Reform Forum, a public watchdog, called on the finance minister to honor the court decision and not launch any appeals, the Trinidad Express said.

The group said appeals would waste public money and demonstrate a “lack of commitment by the government to the spirit and intent of the Freedom of Information Act.”

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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