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Government to launch forensic probe of CLICO

colonialPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Apr 29, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government says it will conduct a forensic audit to establish how much money was used to bailout the financially troubled Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) because of discrepancies in figures released by the previous administration.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert told the weekly end of Cabinet news conference that the figures released by the former People’s Partnership government do not match those released by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.

He told reporters that the former government had said that TT$24.5 billion (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) had been used to bail out the company following the government’s intervention in 2009.

“But this (Central Bank) document speaks to $19.5 billion,” Imbert said, adding that he intends to clear up the confusion as to how much has been paid back and how much was still owed.

Imbert noting that he has been getting weekly updates on the CLICO issue, said a lot of the details of the agreements between the company and then government “have been virtually shrouded in secrecy over the last five years, or so”.

He said that a number of variations to the original agreement exist, and there were 16 extensions to the United Shareholder’s Company agreement.

He said among the records which was “not properly disclosed by the former administration was a heads of agreement that was entered into on May 24, 2013 between then finance minister Larry Howai and Roger Duprey representing the United Shareholders Company with respect to an agreement for repayment on the disposal of all of the assets of the CL Financial companies.

“What was interesting about this heads of agreement, which was kept secret since 2013, was that it “states that Government has advanced by way of financial support to the affected subsidiaries approximately TT$19.6 billion.”

Imbert said in recent weeks he learnt of a disagreement between persons representing CL Financial and government with respect to the amount of money the government had put into the bailout and how much was owed.

“This again is a matter that has not seen the light of day until today,” he said, insisting that the Keith Rowley government simply wants to recover monies owed to taxpayers.

“We do not wish to run the companies like Angostura, Republic Bank” and will be looking at different ways and means to do this,” he said, noting that CLICO was taken over by the Central Bank under emergency powers of the Central Bank Act in pursuant of disposing CLICO’s assets to recover its taxpayers monies used to bailout CLICO, while CL Financial, a holding company, that owns shares in CCLICO, Angostura, Home Construction, CL Marine among others, was treated separately.

“My latest information is that CCLICO owed the government of Trinidad and Tobago approximately TT$16.9 billion.”

To date, government has been repaid four billion dollars from the proceeds of the sale of the NHTL Methanol Company and Imbert said that the Central Bank has presented him, with a plan to recover the TT$12.9 billion.

He said the plan will be submitted to Cabinet early next month.

“Once Cabinet agrees then Central Bank will be given the authority to proceed with its plan to recover the $12.9 billion,” Imbert told reporters.

Meanwhile, the CLICO Policyholders Group (CPG) says it wants government and the Central Bank to update the public on the issue as soon as possible.

The CPG position came after CLICO former chairman, Lawrence Duprey, is seeking to regain control of his former companies by repaying the debt to government.

Imbert has acknowledged that Duprey had sent a proposal to the Central Bank governor on March 22 and a copy to him offering an outline proposal to settle the Clico/CL Financial debt to Government.

Imbert said that while he has not yet responded, the Central Bank has blanked the proposal.

But CPG head, Peter Permell said “the scenario seems to suggest that his proposal is either not being taken seriously or being studiously ignored by the Government.

“When viewed against the backdrop of the secrecy, lack of transparency and accountability by successive administrations relative to the financial affairs of the management-controlled CL Financial Group to date, the CPG believes this is indeed cause for concern,” Permell said.

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colonialPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Apr 29, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government says it will conduct a forensic audit to establish how much money was used to bailout the financially troubled Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) because of discrepancies in figures released by the previous administration.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert told the weekly end of Cabinet news conference that the figures released by the former People’s Partnership government do not match those released by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.

He told reporters that the former government had said that TT$24.5 billion (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) had been used to bail out the company following the government’s intervention in 2009.

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“But this (Central Bank) document speaks to $19.5 billion,” Imbert said, adding that he intends to clear up the confusion as to how much has been paid back and how much was still owed.

Imbert noting that he has been getting weekly updates on the CLICO issue, said a lot of the details of the agreements between the company and then government “have been virtually shrouded in secrecy over the last five years, or so”.

He said that a number of variations to the original agreement exist, and there were 16 extensions to the United Shareholder’s Company agreement.

He said among the records which was “not properly disclosed by the former administration was a heads of agreement that was entered into on May 24, 2013 between then finance minister Larry Howai and Roger Duprey representing the United Shareholders Company with respect to an agreement for repayment on the disposal of all of the assets of the CL Financial companies.

“What was interesting about this heads of agreement, which was kept secret since 2013, was that it “states that Government has advanced by way of financial support to the affected subsidiaries approximately TT$19.6 billion.”

Imbert said in recent weeks he learnt of a disagreement between persons representing CL Financial and government with respect to the amount of money the government had put into the bailout and how much was owed.

“This again is a matter that has not seen the light of day until today,” he said, insisting that the Keith Rowley government simply wants to recover monies owed to taxpayers.

“We do not wish to run the companies like Angostura, Republic Bank” and will be looking at different ways and means to do this,” he said, noting that CLICO was taken over by the Central Bank under emergency powers of the Central Bank Act in pursuant of disposing CLICO’s assets to recover its taxpayers monies used to bailout CLICO, while CL Financial, a holding company, that owns shares in CCLICO, Angostura, Home Construction, CL Marine among others, was treated separately.

“My latest information is that CCLICO owed the government of Trinidad and Tobago approximately TT$16.9 billion.”

To date, government has been repaid four billion dollars from the proceeds of the sale of the NHTL Methanol Company and Imbert said that the Central Bank has presented him, with a plan to recover the TT$12.9 billion.

He said the plan will be submitted to Cabinet early next month.

“Once Cabinet agrees then Central Bank will be given the authority to proceed with its plan to recover the $12.9 billion,” Imbert told reporters.

Meanwhile, the CLICO Policyholders Group (CPG) says it wants government and the Central Bank to update the public on the issue as soon as possible.

The CPG position came after CLICO former chairman, Lawrence Duprey, is seeking to regain control of his former companies by repaying the debt to government.

Imbert has acknowledged that Duprey had sent a proposal to the Central Bank governor on March 22 and a copy to him offering an outline proposal to settle the Clico/CL Financial debt to Government.

Imbert said that while he has not yet responded, the Central Bank has blanked the proposal.

But CPG head, Peter Permell said “the scenario seems to suggest that his proposal is either not being taken seriously or being studiously ignored by the Government.

“When viewed against the backdrop of the secrecy, lack of transparency and accountability by successive administrations relative to the financial affairs of the management-controlled CL Financial Group to date, the CPG believes this is indeed cause for concern,” Permell said.