criminal action initiated against former clico executives

PORT OF SPAIN – Lennox Archer and Mala Gandhi, the former president and vice-president of CLICO Investment Bank, respectively, were both no-shows at the commission of enquiry into the failure of CL Financial and four of its subsidaries, yesterday.

As a result of their non-appearance, Sir Anthony Colman, the enquiry’s lone commissioner, yesterday initiated criminal proceedings against the duo under Section 12 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act.

Yesterday’s sitting of the enquiry lasted just over one hour because of the failure to appear by Archer and Gandhi.

“I think that is about all we can cover. There were no witnesses listed other than those two,” Colman said, before bringing the day’s hearing to an end.

British Queen’s Counsel Peter Carter agreed. “That is right, Sir. I am afraid we have to schedule the hearings on the basis that people will comply with the law and would honour the subpoenas that have been served on them, and we had intended that today would have been devoted to Mr. Archer and Miss Gandhi, as the former president and former vice-president of CLICO Investment Bank in advance of the reappearance (today) of Mr. (Richard) Trotman,” Carter said.

Trotman, also a former CIB president, is scheduled to testify today.

Yesterday’s sitting of the enquiry started at its regular time of 9:30 a.m. The public gallery where the witnesses for the day are usually seated was empty.

You’ve been served

Carter yesterday outlined to Colman the extent the commission had gone to get both Archer and Gandhi to testify. Archer was served with a subpoena on April 7, Carter said. He was also provided with funds from the commission, known as “conduct money”, to pay for his expenses to attend the enquiry.

“He took conduct money and did not conduct himself,” Carter said.

Carter said attempts were taken as recent as Sunday to serve Gandhi with a subpoena.

“Information that we had indicated that Mala Gandhi was in the habit of attending church, her local church on a Sunday, so therefore we thought it was probable that she would be in the vicinity of her home at some time on that day,” Carter said.

“Police officers attended her home and waited there for the day but she did not appear. They made enquiries from her neighbours, who were unable to inform the police where she was, only that she was away,” he said. Carter said Gandhi was “taking delibe≠rate steps to stop the subpoena” from being served.

Colman said he would initiate procee≠dings against the two under Section 12 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act.

Carter read an article written last year by Camini Marajh, head of the Express Investigative Desk, in which she had interviewed both Archer and Gandhi. “It demonstrates at that stage both Archer and Gandhi were willing to speak about their time in CLICO Investment Bank, but only in limited terms and on their own terms, and in contrast with their conduct towards the enquiry,” he said.

He said what the duo told Marajh was “contradictory to the evidence we have heard” and may be “untrue and misleading”.

He then read into the transcript a list of questions the commission intended to pose to Archer and Gandhi.

In addition to Trotman, former CL Financial executive chairman Lawrence Duprey and former CL Financial group finance director Andre Monteil are scheduled to testify today. Monteil, who is represented at the enquiry by senior counsel Martin Daly, has been a regular face in the public gallery. Duprey, however, has never been in attendance.

The commission has taken a wait-and-see approach as to whether they will all attend today. “If (Trotman) does turn up, his evidence may take some time and we also have tomorrow possibly Mr. Monteil and possibly Mr. Duprey,” Colman said. (Express)

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