Former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was arrested at the Piarco airport early today, and Gerald Ramdeen, a UNC colleague, was taken in custody by anti-corruption police who are investigating allegations of kickbacks and money laundering linked to high legal fees paid during the attorney general's tenure.
Ramlogan was detained at the Piarco International Airport around 4:15 a.m. shortly before he was expected to board a flight to the British Virgin Islands, where he was scheduled to appear in court.
Former UNC senator Gerald Ramdeen turned himself into officers attached to the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau (ACIB) in Port of Spain.
For the last few years, investigators have been looking into hefty sums of money paid out by the AG's office to a "favored few," according to senior government minister Stuart Young. Under Ramlogan's tenure, more than $1 billion was paid to a handful of people in the legal profession.
That figure ballooned from about $40 million during the previous administration.
Both Ramlogan and Ramdeen have previously denied any wrongdoing.
Ramlogan had sued then Opposition Leader Keith Rowley in 2012 after he questioned him about the massive payments by the attorney general's office. Ramlogan later dropped the lawsuit.
The arrests of Ramlogan and Ramdeen are the first action into seven active investigations involving legal fees approved by Ramlogan. Ramdeen, a former UNC senator received a substantial portion of those fees.
Today's arrests were directly linked to a statement given by a British Queen's Counsel who received several high profile cases during Ramlogan's tenure.
"Shockwaves will be going through the legal fraternity all now," said a senior official close to the investigation.
Reacting to the arrests, the UNC said it was not privy to the details of the allegations.
"We have no doubt that this desperate and failing Rowley administration is searching for a way to distract the public's attention away from their record of failure over the last four years," the UNC said in a statement.
"The Rowley administration is characterised by incompetence, corruption, massive unemployment and runaway crime."
Guardian Media was told that a team of officers searched Ramlogan's home in Palmiste near San Fernando while he was being detained at the airport.
An airport insider told Guardian Media that Ramlogan was approached by one officer attached to the Traffic Index, which is akin to Special Branch Police, and two officers attached to the ACIB. Ramlogan complied with officers and was not handcuffed.
At 7 a.m Ramdeen turned himself in to ACIB and is currently being questioned.
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith would not say what the men were being questioned about.
"Cannot give further details at this time but ACIB spearheading investigation," Griffith said.
Ramlogan was due to travel to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) for a judicial review matter in which he was representing the BVI Speaker of the House of Assembly, Julian Wilcox.
Neither Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi nor Minister of National Security Stuart Young responded to questions about the matter.
Ramlogan is already before the court charged with misbehaviour in public office and perverting the course of justice in relation to an allegation that he attempted to get David West, the Director of t he Police Complaints Authority to withdraw a statement in a defamation lawsuit filed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley against the former attorney general.