We are jokers!
Retired PS feels those responsible for CIL mess should be charged by now
A former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance today suggested that Barbadians were being too soft on officials of the cash-strapped CLICO International Life (CIL), while arguing that those responsible for creating the current mess should have been dragged before the law courts to face criminal charges by now.
William Layne, who once chaired the now disbanded special Oversight Committee of CLICO, was reacting to yesterday’s announcement by CIL’s Judicial Manager, Deloitte Consulting Limited, that it was left with no other choice but to wind up the company’s operations.
While making it clear that he was not advising anyone, Layne said he did not see any scenario in which investors and policyholders, who were left out of pocket following the collapse of the insurance company in 2009, would get a full return on their investment.
He spoke today ahead of a clear-the-air statement issued via the Government Information Service (GIS) by the Ministry of Finance and Economic affairs, in which it described the move by the Judicial Manager to have the company liquidated as not only “premature” but also “unwarranted and unnecessary”.
In the statement, Government also reiterated “its full and complete commitment to the court-approved restructuring plan for CIL and its associated companies,” while disclosing that a new company had already been established to initiate and manage its participation in the restructuring plan.
The statement further informed that directors of the new company held their first meeting with the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and senior officials of his ministry last Thursday.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs also sought to emphasize that “contrary to any impressions which may have been drawn from recent media reports, the Government of Barbados cannot under law transfer any financial resources directly to CLICO or the Judicial Managers from the Consolidated Fund.
“Such resources can and will be transferred to the new company for the management of its affairs and the execution of the proposed restructuring of CLICO once all of the necessary arrangements are in place,” it added.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY ahead of the Ministry’s statement, the retired permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and former head of the CLICO oversight committee said while he was not advising policyholders on what action they should take, if he was among those affected, he would be seeking redress in the law courts.
He was reacting directly to the Judicial Manager’s statement in which it said that “no funding has been made available to date and consequently, the Judicial Manager has no alternative but to act on its August 25th, 2014 recommendation to move towards liquidation”.
However, Layne argued that “the company didn’t get in the position by serendipity or by divine intervention.
“The company got into that position because of the people who were responsible for managing it. That is what I believe,” he said while contending that “it is only in the Caribbean that we don’t sue people for mismanaging companies.
“It is only in the Caribbean that people mismanage companies and still walking ‘bout the street. That is a sad reflection of us . . . we are jokers!” he said, insisting that “only in the Caribbean” no one is held accountable.
“[Texan billionaire Allen] Stanford is in prison, David Smith from Jamaica is in prison because of the United States and the British, but nobody from CLICO . . . has been arrested or charged or in prison, but people are going to lose a lot of money and that is a sad thing about this whole situation and people are still walking about [freely] flaunting their wealth.
“That is how I feel about this whole situation, but I don’t think the judicial manager has any choice because if the assets are not in position, they can’t do anything else,” argued Layne.
The retired civil servant said he did not see any of the policyholders getting 100 per cent of what they were owed.
“I mean, they won’t get back all but at least they would get back some. I just think it is a very sad day in this country that people can just walk away from hurting people financially and then brag about it,” he added.
His comments come on the heels of those yesterday by the President of the Barbados Investment and Policyholders Alliance (BIPA), June Fowler, who had expressed disgust that both present and past Governments had failed to follow through on promises made to thousands of policyholders over the course of the near six-year CIL debacle that was triggered by the February 2009 collapse of its Trinidadian parent company CL Financial.
However, in its statement today the Ministry of Finance said the directors of the new company set up to oversee the restructuring were “appropriately briefed as to their mandate and responsibilities”.
In addition, the directors were expected to meet with the Judicial Manager to be “fully apprised as to the current administrative and financial status of CLICO”.
“Once this process is completed the initial short-term capitalization of CLICO through the new company will commence,” the Government promised, adding that meetings would also be held with all other critical stakeholders, including BIPA, as well as national and regional regulators,” said the statement.
The new company is to be chaired by financial analyst Clenell Goodman, with former supervisor of insurance Wismar Greaves, serving as deputy chairman.
The other directors are former Central Bank employee and financial consultant Desiree Cherubin; former Minister of International Business and accountant George Hutson; attorney-at-law Stephen Alleyne; business and financial analyst Kennedy Sawratsingh; and The Director of Finance or his representative.