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'Land deal caused CLICO collapse'

Peter Permell, chairman of the CLICO policyholders group, addresses yesterday’s press conference.

PORT OF SPAIN — “The single transaction that caused the CL Financial empire to fall.”

This is how Peter Permell, chairman of the CLICO policyholders group, has labelled a billion-dollar purchase of property in Florida, US, known as the Green Island Transaction. Permell is now calling on Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to conduct a forensic investigation into the billion-dollar deal.

Today, Permell and representatives of the CLICO policyholders group met with Anthony Colman, lone commissioner in the Commission of Enquiry into the collapse of CL Financial and the Hindu Credit Union to discuss the land deal.

The enquiry resumed this morning at Winsure Building, Richmond Street, Port of Spain.

The CLICO policyholders group held a press conference at Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre in St. Ann’s yesterday.

At the press conference Permell spoke of the US$295 million purchase of 6,000 acres of land in Osceola County in January 2008, which he called the “most egregious example of mismanagement”.

Permell said the purchase price of the land deal worked out to US$50,000 an acre.

Roy Partin and his family, the owners of the land, were willing to sell the property for US$200 million, Permell said. The transaction was conducted by British American Insurance Company Limited.

BAICO is an 82 per cent owned subsidiary of CL Financial.

On September 4, 2008, the land deal was brought to the attention of the CL Financial board of directors.

At that board meeting it was agreed that British American’s future was “possibly at risk”.

Lawrence Duprey, CL Financial executive chairman, was authorised to take whatever steps he deemed necessary to correct the transaction.

Among the financing for the billion-dollar investment was a US$12 million loan from First Citizens Bank, a US$20 million loan from Caribbean Money Market Brokers and US$26 million from British American (Trinidad) Limited.

An Ernst and Young report has stated that “all the loans were in default”. (Express)

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