Trinidad: Half a billion dollars spent on CLICO/HCU probe to date

Trinidad: Half a billion dollars spent on CLICO/HCU probe to date
Attorney General Faris Al Rawi
Attorney General Faris Al Rawi

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 9, CMC – Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi says he expects the Director of Public Production (DPP), Roger Gaspard, to act with “alacrity” after disclosing that nearly half a billion dollars (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) have been spent so far on the investigations into the collapse of the Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) and the Hindu Credit Union (HCU).

Al-Rawi, responding to an opposition question in Parliament on Friday, said that from October 1, 2016, the cost of outstanding professional fees for foreign and local counsel was TT$52.5 million while the cost of professional services for foreign counsel was TT$82.1 million.

The Attorney General told legislators that the cost of monthly rental and call charges from the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) was TT$$8,450.65, adding therefore that the total combined costs of provision of services as at February 20, 2019 was TT$82.19 million.

He said the figure was in addition to the TT$109.3 million costs reported in the paper entitled Breakdown of Expenses in December 2016.

Asked by the opposition as to whether there is a deadline for ending the matter, Al-Rawi said that could only be answered by Gaspard and that it was squarely within his domain.

“I understand from the DPP that he is close to completion of his matters. We, of course, don’t ask questions that we are not allowed to ask as the executive arm, particularly at the Office of the Attorney General.

“We trust that the DPP is in charge of what he is doing and we expect that he will do what he must with alacrity,” Al-Rawi said.

He told Parliament that more than TT$200 million legal and accounting costs, stood on top other costs including litigation at the Central Bank and other ancillary pieces of litigation which would take the figure to several hundreds of millions.

“So this entire bill, I dare say, has crossed close to half a billion dollars. And that’s just a conservative estimate.”

The Trinidad and Tobago government signed a shareholders’ agreement on June 12, 2009 with CLICO following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between government and CL Financial, CLICLO’s parent company on January 30, 2009.

The MOU gave government control of 49 per cent of CLICO’s shares. The then Patrick Manning government injected seven billion dollars into CLICO in 2009 to keep the collapsed insurance firm running and protect policyholders.

In 2011, the then Kamla Persad Bissessar lead coalition government through legislation committed an additional TT$13 billion to keep the insurance company afloat.

The collapse of the company was the subject of a Commission of Inquiry that began in November 2010 when Sir Anthony Colman QC, was appointed the sole Commissioner.

Colman delivered his first report on HCU on July 16, 2014 and on CLICO in 2016.

The Persad Bissessar government sent the 400-page report on the HCU, to the DPP, and the police.

Two years ago, the Trinidad and Tobago government defended its decision to seek a court-appointed liquidator to deal with the assets of CL Financial company, saying it was seeking to ensure that taxpayers were not on the losing end of a TT$15 billion interest-free loan.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said that there was absolutely “no malice, no conspiracy” on the part of his administration to seek to protect the interest of taxpayers who had originally provided TT$23 billion dollars to bail out the company, whose flagship interests include Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO), British American Insurance Company (BAICO), and the CLICO Investment Bank (CIB).


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