Dale Marshall astonished over comments made by former CIL boss
The President of the Barbados Investors and Policyholders Alliance (BIPA), June Fowler, today refused to be drawn into robust public discussion which emanated from yesterday’s unsolicited public apology issued by Leroy Parris, while noting that the former executive chairman of CLICO International Life (CIL) was a defendant in one of two cases BIPA had filed in the High Court.
However, former Attorney General Dale Marshall did not hold back his tongue on the matter.
The Opposition Barbados Labour Party representative, who on Sunday night called for a criminal investigation into the CLICO debacle, said he was “truly astonished” at the comments made by the retired top executive, in an interview with reporters yesterday in which he broke his five-year public silence and apologised to policyholders, while maintaining his innocence of any wrongdoing.
“Parris clearly does not understand what his role as a director of those companies was at the time when he served in that capacity. It would appear to me that he did not fully grasp the nature of the fiduciary duty that he owed at law to those companies of which he was a director,” Marshall told Barbados TODAY.
“I am astonished and embarrassed that a person who has been at the helm of an enterprise in Barbados for many years could be so brazen as to stand up and pretend that he is hurt and has done nothing wrong in relation to these companies,” said Marshall amid a legal challenge brought by CIL’s judicial managers, Deloitte Consulting, who are now seeking to recoup over $3.3 million, which was said to have been paid out by the company to Parris via his former attorney, late Prime Minister David Thompson.
BIPA has also mounted legal action against 13 directors of CLICO and its sister company BAICO, including Parris and president Terrence Thornhill, for $128 million in negligence lawsuits. The court action seeks to recover $76 million from CLICO players and $52 million from those accused of negligence in the BAICO matter.
Commenting on the situation today, retired permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and former chairman of the Oversight Committee of CLICO Holdings Barbados Ltd William Layne, as well as former leading CLICO insurance executive Neval Greenidge were both adamant that there was a case to be answered in the wake of the 2009 collapse of Barbados-based CIL.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY Layne reiterated his earlier contention that if what happened with CIL had occurred in the United States “some people would have gone to prison already”.
However, he said he would only support the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the insurance entity if the terms of reference included power to recommend prosecution for anyone found guilty of wrongdoing.
“Other than that, it is a soap opera for entertainment for people. Unless the commission is going to have terms of reference that are going to recommend that legal action be taken against persons by the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions], then it would be a soap opera,” he declared.
Suggesting that commissions of inquiry were more often than not political tools, Layne argued that “for all the ones that we have had already, nobody went to jail”.
“The only thing a commission would do is bring a lot of things to public knowledge. It might not be a bad thing, but in the end . . . the [CLICO] commission of inquiry in Trinidad was like a pre-Carnival celebration. It was a soap opera. It left more questions than answers.
“The problem in the Caribbean is that there is a complete lack of governance at both the corporate and political levels. So people do things and get away with them, depending on who they are. Only poor people go to prison in the Caribbean . . . That’s the tragedy in the Caribbean situation,” he argued.
Layne headed the six-member committee set up in 2009 by late Prime Minister Thompson to take control of CLICO Holdings Barbados Ltd to find buyers for three CLICO subsidiaries.
The committee had devised a plan to restructure the beleaguered CIL.
However, the company subsequently went into the hands of judicial managers.
Greenidge, a former leading CLICO insurance executive and retired police officer, said in a post on the Barbados TODAY website that he would support a criminal investigation or inquiry into the company and would be the first to give evidence.
“I am ready, willing and able and want to see justice for those unfortunate people [who have been] fleeced,” he said.
“I hurt everyday for my policyholders who I left there . . . When I read of them not being able to get their pensions nor send their children to school, it hurts from the pit of my stomach.”