Commission orders Duprey to testify

PORT OF SPAIN — Former CL Financial chairman Lawrence Duprey and its former financial director Andre Monteil must testify at the Commission of Enquiry into the failure of CLICO and several CLF companies when the eEnquiry resumes on April 29.

That was the judgment delivered by sole commissioner Sir Anthony Colman in a 66-page document which the Express obtained yesterday.

Colman, who had heard submissions from Duprey’s attorney Andrew Mitchell QC and Monteil’s attorney, Martin Daly, observed that should the men fail to take the witness box in an enquiry which has played out in the public domain for the past two years and having been key players of CLF, it would “generally be seen by the public as an incomprehensible travesty wrought of legalistic manoeuvering”.

Colman observed that Duprey and Monteil had legal rights to a fair trial and ” in respect of possible future criminal proceedings have somehow to be protected, but since at the same time the public interest is in being entitled to the fullest possible information by means of an open hearing” he directed that both men must respond to the summons which they have been served. He then further directed that:

1. Having attended they must go into the witness box and take the oath.

2. They must then verify their name and address.

3. Counsel for each of the parties and the Commission who intend to cross-examine Lawrence Duprey and Andre Monteil will then each read into the transcript a numbered list of each of the more important questions, as distinct as from every single minor question, which he or she would propose to put to the witness, such list to have been provided to attorneys for the witness and to the Commission and other parties’ attorneys not less than two clear working days before the witness is to begin giving evidence.

4. At the end of the reading of each party’s list the witness may, if so advised, claim the SI Privilege (self-incrimination) for some or all such questions by number and identify by number which questions, if any, he is prepared to answer.

5. I shall then finally rule on whether the Privilege can be invoked for the whole or part of the list for which SI Privilege has been claimed, calling for assistance by counsel only where in my discretion I consider it necessary.

6. The witness will then give evidence in answer to those question for which he does not claim SI Privilege or to which I rule that it does not attach.

“Cumbersome and time-consuming though this procedure may appear, I consider that it is important that, in the light of what I have already said in this ruling, the public should see in the most transparent manner practicable how the decision-taking by this Commission with regard to a key procedural and evidential issue has been arrived at and what the procedural consequences of that decision are,” he said. (Express)

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