In the controversy surrounding Minister of the Environment Kavydass (Kavy) Ramano, suspicions emerge about the use of his attorney's office during his ministerial mandate. Which raises questions about a possible breach of ethics. Questioned, former judge Vinod Boolell recalls that a professional becoming a minister must cease all professional activity, in accordance with the Constitution and democratic conventions. Parvez Dookhy, lawyer and constitutionalist, speaks of “professional, political and possibly criminal misconduct”.

“Any professional who has taken the oath and holds the position of minister no longer has the right to exercise his profession. » This is what former judge Vinod Boolell wants to highlight in reaction to the controversy surrounding the Minister of the Environment Kavy Ramano, and his notarial firm.

This principle, he clarifies, is by virtue of a well-established convention in any democratic country. He points out that Schedule 3 of the Constitution clearly stipulates that any individual having taken the oath as a minister must “imperatively devote himself to his new functions”.

Disputed document

Vinod Boolell, however, asks himself the following question: “Did Minister Kavy Ramano exercise his profession in this specific case? » He explains that the press reported that his law firm was used. “There is a document with his name on the letterhead. Someone signed for him and the document bears the seal of his office. I think that Kavy Ramano should have had his name temporarily removed from the list of notaries, at least during the time he assumes the functions of minister,” believes the former judge.

Vinod Boolell adds that Kavy Ramano should have imperatively placed the seal of his office under seal in order to prevent any misuse of his name as a notary. “As a result, everything suggests that his office operated in his name. Everything shows that something is not right. Has he given specific instructions to his staff to say that his study can operate in his absence? I cannot comment on the subject, because I have no proof,” he emphasizes.

Correspondence at court

Asked for a reaction on this controversy, the former Minister of the Environment Étienne Sinatambou refrained from any comment. “I prefer not to comment on this matter, because Mr. Kavy Ramano is not only a colleague, but also my predecessor at the Environment,” he simply replied.

Le Dimanche/L'Hebdo turned to a notary with around thirty years of experience in the field. He explains that under section 2 of the Notaries Act, the Chamber of Notaries must keep a register containing the identity of its members, that is to say of all registered notaries in the country. However, this list does not specify whether they exercise their functions or not.

“The Notaries Act makes it clear that a notary holding a ministerial position must send a letter to the Supreme Court requesting that his or her name be temporarily removed from the list of notaries. Once his ministerial functions are completed, he will be able to send another letter to request that his name be reinstated on the list,” specifies this source.

Asked about the controversy, lawyer and constitutionalist Parvez Dookhy is of the opinion that there is “professional, political and possibly criminal misconduct” in this case. According to him, the minister should have closed his study and redeployed his staff, or allowed a colleague to take over as substitute for the entire time he fulfills his duties as minister.

“It is above all a question of ethics. Kavy Ramano was sworn in as Minister of the Republic in 2019. If the matter is true, how can he afford to do such a thing? » asks Mr. Parvez Dookhy. He emphasizes that the commitment made by a minister when taking the oath requires a clear separation of his professional activities to avoid any conflict of interest.

Me Parvez Dookhy goes further. For him, “what happened shows that the system and the institutions are not working”. He denounces a lack of rigor in the application of ethical rules and a potential institutional laxity which would allow such offenses.

The case of Étienne Sinatambou

Étienne Sinatambou, former Minister of the Environment and professional notary, made a statement on the afternoon of Friday June 14, 2024 to Le Dimanche/L'Hebdo. He revealed that he wrote to the Supreme Court in 2014, after the victory of L'Alliance Lepep, to request that his name be temporarily removed from the list of notaries active in Mauritius. His request was motivated by the fact that he was going to assume the functions of Minister of the Environment. He specified that he had requested to be re-registered on the list of notaries at the end of his ministerial mandate, towards the end of 2019.

The minister: “It’s unacceptable”

Friday, on TOP FM, Kavy Ramano gave his first interview since the affair broke out. “Some people say that when a notary is not in office, his office must remain closed. It's wrong. Article 11 of the Notaries Act provides for the continuity of the study of a notary, which is very important for the safeguarding of authentic documents,” said the Minister of the Environment.

He added that it is a situation where it is not a “Permanent Vacancy” but rather a “Temporary Vacancy” which lasts throughout the ministerial mandate. He then explained that “two notaries have been responsible for his office” since he informed the Chamber of Notaries of his taking office as minister. “The study is still functional, because we are guaranteed by a legal principle under article 11 of the Notaries Act,” recalled the minister.

Have you contacted the study to request explanations? ” Of course. I cannot stand by and do nothing about this situation. It is my duty and my responsibility, because it is something unacceptable. I'm not going to answer for anyone. I repeat, no one is authorized to sign in the name of a notary. The notary did not sign the document. But how can an individual sign in the name of the notary, especially when the latter is not in office? » underlined the minister.

He also recalled the press release issued last Tuesday, a little over a week ago. In this document he states that no one has the right to issue documents in his name as a notary. He thus strives to dispel doubts and distance himself from any direct involvement in this affair.

“Following my appointment as Minister of the Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change in November 2019, I would like to emphasize that the Association of Notaries has been duly informed that, in accordance with the law, I no longer practices as a notary from this date. Therefore, from this date, no person is authorized to issue documents on my behalf as a notary. Thank you for your understanding,” highlighted Kavy Ramano in the said press release.

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