was this the payoff for Ralph Ramkarran to step aside to pave the way for Donald Ramotar(was also on the GuySuCo Board of Directors)? This is a wake up call for all those who thought Ramkarran was a stand up guy.
GuySuCo reneges on commitment to divulge fees paid to US lawyers
…conservative estimate pegs figure at $350M
One day after committing to provide this publication with the amount of money paid to overseas lawyers for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Chief Executive Officer, Paul Bhim, has reneged.
Bhim on Tuesday told this publication that he would yesterday provide the amount of money paid but when contacted yesterday he was mum save only to say, “Let’s just say a fair amount.”
When pressed further, Bhim reiterated that he would only say that the amount paid to the overseas lawyers in the court case against Bedesse Imports Ltd is a “fair amount”, adding that he could divulge no more information.
In pointing out his hesitation to say anything further in relation to fees paid by the sugar entity, Bhim drew reference to an article that this publication carried in its Wednesday edition.
In that article it quoted Ralph Ramkarran, who is with the law firm Cameron and Shepherd that was hired to defend the matter, as saying that the fees paid to the overseas lawyers was a private matter.
Conservative estimates of the amount paid thus far for the lawyers in the court battle which is over two years old is some $350M. Confronted with this figure Bhim would only say, “I can only say it’s a fair amount.”
Ramkarran told media operatives during a press briefing at Freedom House on Tuesday that as attorney for the clients, which includes GuySuCo, he would need their permission to speak.
“As far as the fees for lawyers, that is an absurd question, that is people’s private business….it is GuySuCo’s private business.”
Ramkarran suggested that maybe a question should be formulated and posed in the National Assembly.
A spokesman in the local law firm of Cameron and Shepherd had told this publication that United States law firms do not operate like those in Guyana. Lawyers charge by the hour. The spokesman said that top lawyers charge US$1,500 per hour.
Foley Hoag and Company lawyers charge slightly less. Investigations have revealed that the lawyers on the GuySuCo case are charging about US$1,000 per hour. Two lawyers are working on the matter.
In the end, the cost could be very high but according to the spokesperson, this money could be recovered when the sugar company demands costs from Bedessee.
The issue began when GuySuCo decided to challenge a United States-based Guyanese man, Vernon Bedessee, over the use of the label Demerara Gold on sugar packages.
GuySuCo was already marketing a product, Demerara Gold, on the European market but the company discovered that Bedessee was marketing a product of the same name but instead of sugar made in Demerara, the product marketed by Bedessee was from Mauritius.
And Bedessee made it known on the label that his Demerara Gold was a product of Mauritius.
GuySuCo immediately challenged the apparent trademark infringement. Its Washington-based lawyers, Foley Hoag and Company, have already secured a qualified registration in the United States as part of the challenge to Bedessee’s apparent trademark infraction.
Following the discovery of the alleged breach, the Agriculture Minister made some statements critical of Bedessee’s action. These statements were published by the local media and reproduced in the overseas editions of some of the local newspapers. Immediately Bedessee sued for libel and slander.