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PNM candidate faces $500,000 lawsuit

Published: 
Monday, August 17, 2015
PNM’s Pointe-a-Pierre candidate, Neil Mohammed.

As the People’s National Movement (PNM) rallies its troops ahead of Nomination Day tomorrow, one of its candidates, Neil Mohammed, is being sued by a former tenant for more than $500,000. 

Mohammed, the PNM’s Pointe-a-Pierre candidate and son of south businessman Fen Mohammed, is facing legal action from Brian Phillip, managing director of Briter Management Company trading as Briter Recreation Club over an alleged illegal seizure of private property, $500,000 in cash, and gaming equipment, in 2014.

Phillip, through his attorney Keith Scotland, filed a lawsuit against Mohammed in June calling for the return of his property and money. The matter is still pending as Mohammed and his attorneys have requested additional time to prepare a defence in the matter. Hearing is expected to be called during the new law term. 

Contacted for comment on the lawsuit on Saturday, Mohammed said the matter was nothing more than political mischief by those seeking to tarnish his reputation ahead of the September 7 polls. He has met with his attorney Terrance Bharath to prepare his defence in the matter. Mohammed has questioned the timing of the lawsuit by Phillip, whom he said, ran a casino in his building. The Marabella businessman has denied Phillip’s claims. 

“Why wait a year and a half to make a claim? You never wrote me any letters, I never got a phone call, a query from him. I treat the matter as I would treat any matter, I gave it to my attorney who said that this is purely political. There is no police report, it was never reported. I expected this and I expect in the coming weeks a lot worse. It is not worrying me in the least,” Mohammed said.

PNM general secretary Ashton Ford, when contacted for comment on whether the PNM had any stipulation on legal action which could debar Mohammed from contesting, said, “I do not know about any legal matter and therefore I cannot comment on it. He (Mohammed) has to verify that to me before I can comment to you.”

About the lawsuit

The lawsuit, which was filed on June 30, states that in January 2013 Phillip entered into an oral  lease agreement with Mohammed for the rent of Hobosco Building, corner Ramdass Street and Southern Main Road, Marabella, a property owned by Mohammed. Phillip, in the lawsuit, claimed that they agreed on a monthly rent of $70,000 with the promise that a written lease would have been drawn up. He claims the lease was never provided even though he paid all monthly rentals from January 2013 to January 2014.

In February 2014, he said, the club was closed because Briter Recreation Club did not have a recreation club licence and its renewal application for the original licence was pending. Phillip, in his claim, said sometime around the beginning of February he decided to relocate the club. 

He said on February 10, 2014 he was in the process of removing his items from the building and packing them onto two trucks when Mohammed’s personal security, an off-duty police officer, came to the building and stopped one of the truck loaders. He allegedly drew his firearm. He claimed that Mohammed contacted a group of police officers and army personnel with firearms who took the building keys from Phillip and locked the building.

He said Mohammed said all of the items belonging to Briter Recreation Club in the building were forfeited. Phillip is claiming $23,791 for perishable goods and alcohol, $79,370 for appliances and fixtures, $250,000 for slot machine float and $250,000 for table float. He is asking for the return of goods, appliances and fixtures, or an alternative of $105,096 in damages, plus compensation for the detention of the goods, appliances and fixtures in the amount of their market value at the date of conversion.

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