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'Former CEO paid $135m. in four years'

PORT OF SPAIN — Anthony Michael Fifi, former CEO of the CL Financial subsidiary, Home Construction Ltd, had a contract with the parent company in which he was paid $135 million between 2004 and 2008, said Terrence Bharath, attorney for the Clico Policyholders Group.

“My figures are below that,” replied Fifi, who was the lone witness for six hours at yesterday’s Commission of Inquiry into Clico and the Hindu Credit Union at the Winsure Building, Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain. “It is closer to $79 million,” he said.

“My instructions are, whether it is $79 million or $135 million, you were paid substantial sums in which you provided no other services other than your own,” said Bharath, whose questioning of Fifi lasted almost three hours before the inquiry broke for lunch close to 1 pm.

“It was fair payment in exchange for what I did for HCL,” said Fifi, who described his services as “mind and management”. Fifi, 70, said he had a management contract with CLF to manage HCL under the name PMI Ltd, which he described as a personal company he had set up in 2004, after he retired, to continue management of HCL.

Bharath told Fifi that under his management contract, PMI, which was registered in Barbados,‚was paid for salaries, tools and equipment and sub-contractors and skilled and unskilled labour.

“Basically, I set up the organisation and I continued to operate it,” said Fifi, who said he ran PMI out of his office at the Long Circular Mall, St James.

When Fifi began to say that PMI‚was a “device set up to…,” Bharath interrupted him to say, “It was a device to fill your pockets,” to which Fifi immediately responded: “That is your opinion.”

Bharath: “The structure had no effect at all. It was just you. You told me the malls alone – Valpark Shopping Plaza, Long Circular Mall, Trincity Mall and Atlantic Plaza – may have employed 200 people, and that does not include One Woodbrook Place.”

Bharath suggested to Fifi that Roxanne Husbands was the corporate secretary at HCL‚and also the corporate secretary at PMI. He said Fifi’s fixed annual fee was about $3 million a year, which excluded a technical fee of three per cent of gross revenue; a US$3.3 million (TT$19 million) mobilisation fee, and a performance incentive. (Guardian)

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