Colman Commission considerations

This is a rapid look at some of the news coming out of the Colman Commission – the first live evidence was given on Monday 4th July.

That evidence has so far been into the Hindu Credit Union (HCU) and already some peculiar things are emerging.  I do not follow it on TV and just read the newspaper reports –

  • Breach of Trust – It seems clear to me that the depositors had a seriously misplaced faith in HCU and Harry Harnarine, which itself raises certain questions as to who was really fooling who.  It is basic and inescapable that a higher rate of return will mean a higher level of risk, which is why it is important to be more sceptical about high-return investments.  My point being that as a Credit Union, one has to become a member to participate and therefore one has a stake in the success of the organisation – with access to the accounts and attendance at the AGM, one can only wonder what kind of dance existed between the HCU chiefs and its ordinary members.  Yet, we are hearing from people who seem to have deposited their money at these  incredible rates of return and adopted attitudes of complete trust.  The witnesses need to be more seriously probed on what happened at those AGMs and so on – if they HCU conducted its AGMs anything like the CL Financial’s final AGM, it will be quite a story.   We need to get past the various heartbreaking stories, to the nexus of responsibility which is where this entire game is played.  I am sure there is plenty more to come out, plenty more.
  • farid scoon
    Farid Scoon

    Farid Scoon, Attorney-at-Law – Was expected to explain how he could be representing a group of HCU depositors and the former HCU chief, Harry Harnarine, at the same time.

There also seems to be a strange situation on CL Financial, since I am told that none of the affected people are willing to come forward to testify.  I am not very surprised at that and it is yet another indication of the extent of that toxic ‘Code of Silence‘.

What a shame!  25,000 policyholders said to be affected by the failure of CL Financial, yet only one is willing to testify.  Only One!   I wrote before in this space about the probability that a high proportion of those EFPA monies had never been screened by rigorous Anti Money Laundering (AML) procedures.  I suggested to the Minister of Finance that provisions be made in the payout agreements for the applicants for bailout monies to have the source of their funds vetted for compliance with VAT, PAYE, Income and Corporation taxes.  The Minister did not adopt those proposals.

So, what we now have is the spectacle of the Colman Commission set up by the government to examine the causes of the collapse and finding that few want to speak, very few.  I don’t know if it’s dirty money, or ‘keeping it in the family‘ or what…but I do hope that Colman takes a robust approach by using his powers to sub-poena people to appear and testify.

The Colman Commission needs to deploy more resources in getting info up onto its website in a timely fashion.  Just as a simple example, the opening arguments which were heard last week have been posted onto the website in very erratic, delayed fashion.   The session of Monday 27th June was posted on Tuesday 28th June, but the sessions of Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th June were posted on Tuesday 5th July, no explanation given.  If more resources are required those need to be deployed.  The Colman Commission must not be allowed to become an orphan in our land of grandiose schemes and projects.

Of course we have seen the expected attempts by Lawrence Duprey to remove himself from being enquired into or even being required to answer questions.  At this time those attempts appear to have been thwarted, but we can surely expect more spoiling tactics and not just from Duprey, either.


19 thoughts on “Colman Commission considerations

  1. Mr Raymond, firstly I am an avid reader of your weblog.

    “but I do hope that Colman takes a robust approach by using his powers to sub-poena people to appear and testify.”
    1.I would like to know what help the typical policyholder could be to the COE. The COE already knows that many people are affected. But how could we help them in understanding what went wrong, for that is their mandate.

    Bring these people forward to answer those questions:
    CL Financial Chiefs – The Dupreys, Monteils,etc also include the shareholders,
    The Auditors – Price Waterhouse Coopers and Ernst & Young,
    The Regulators – The Supervisor of Insurance, the Central Bank, Securities and Exchange Commission – Hiralal, Ewart Williams etc

    Sir Anthony is calling on policyholders to come forward also, what could he expect from the policyholders except to say that they bought policies

    “I wrote before in this space about the probability that a high proportion of those EFPA monies had never been screened by rigorous Anti Money Laundering (AML) procedures …………….I don’t know if it’s dirty money, or ‘keeping it in the family‘ or what”

    2. I do take offense with your inference. Please, don’t paint everyone with the same brush. PAYE etc was paid on the money that went in to our EFPA. This, Mr Raymond represented a lump sum payment when my husband took VSEP.
    We can’t always generalize.

    1. Hello Gail and thanks for returning to the discussion –

      The policyholders could be of great assistance to the Commission in explaining what motivated them to get the EFPAs – i.e. How they were sold and what they were told.

      So, it is very interesting to consider the ‘Offer Letters’ which were widely circulated by CLICO to sell these products – EFPA, Core Fund and so on – since those were very clear on the exceptional returns offered and that your monies would be guaranteed. Those letters were manifest falsehoods – big lies – since there is absolutely no such thing as a guaranteed investment. What is worse, it is well-known that the higher the returns offered by an investment, the greater is the risk attached to that investment.

      My point being that we need to have a full and proper account from the public who bought those EFPAs as to how they were enticed to place their funds into this ‘guaranteed investment product’. We need the names of the agents and the copies of the bogus letters to be lodged as evidence in the Colman Commission – Will you be submitting any of those as evidence? You do not need a lawyer to send in evidence.

      For example, I would be fascinated to see Manny Lawrence – former CLICO Sales Director and founding member of the Policyholders’ Group – on the witness stand to explain how the EFPA was sold. That would be a riveting discussion.

      Another important aspect of this entire disaster is that many of the people who invested in EFPAs had a high proportion of their assets in a single policy. So, we have yet another fundamental investment rule being broken – yes, the one about all ones eggs in one basket. Again, how was the CLICO salesforce able to persuade so many people – many of whom I know to be sensible, eminent people – to set aside reality and participate in this collective insanity? Was it just the temptation of the incredibly high interest rates or are we witnessing the effects of sinister sales science?

      Following from that there was yet another level of irresponsibility in that certain Credit Unions also ‘took basket‘ and over-invested in the EFPA. What were those Board Members of those Credit Union thinking? We need to hear from them. But the very bailout is the source of problems for this Commission, since I understand that all the affected Credit Unions have been quietly repaid, so of course none of them want to discuss any of this in public, having rescued themselves. We need to hear from those people too and I am suggesting that Colman get the names of those people and sub-poena them. In the case of officials in a position of trust, who decided to invest other people’s money in a manner which is in breach of prudential criteria – I am not just speaking about Credit Unions here – there is the possibility that they were induced to invest with the EFPA by ambitious agents.

      So, at this moment 25,000 people claim to have been affected by the EFPA disaster and only one person is willing to testify. I find that to be a sobering and disgraceful measure of basic values in our country. We need to hear from these people if we are to have a proper picture of what went wrong and how. There is no escaping that.

      Finally, on the Anti Money Laundering aspect, you will see that I did speak about ‘probability’ and ‘high proportions’…I never said, nor do I believe, that everyone in the EFPA put ‘dirty money’ in there. I did not paint everyone with the same brush.

      My point about the silence and the ‘Code of Silence’ stands. Prove me wrong, ask the people you know if they would come forward. Consider doing the same, Gail.

      My point about the dirty money remains unchallenged.

      Thanks again


  2. Another point about the EFPA’s (in my opinion, a deposit dressed up as an annuity) is that these could only be sold to individuals and companies, credit unions, etc could not have purchased same. This has already been noted in the liquidation of CLICO Bahamas by a QC whose opinion was sought. He did say that the personal / individual EFPA’s should count against the statutory find.

    1. Just to add, the QC also stated that he could not give an opinion that the EFPA’s purchased by credit unions, companies, etc should be set against the statutory fund assets……… other words they would have to stand their loss.

  3. Paulie, as you state and as we all know “these could only be sold to individuals, and companies, credit unions etc COULD NOT HAVE PURCHASED SAME” my caps.
    But credit unions did purchase and our dear MOF looks after them.

  4. But do 2 wrongs = 1 right? Everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too. This is typical of T+T, there is no black and white, only gray so everyone can get away with anything.

  5. For a man who seems to like to appear on TV and gallery himself Permell did not come across very well or enjoy himself yesterday.

  6. Mr Permel made it clear. Well off people do not want to identify themselves in the light of criminal targeting and kidnapping. Moreover security is easily breached in Trinidad and if depositors set out the millions they invested this information can get into many hands. Mr Permel showed this when he revealed that one HCU deposit was for $5 million dollars. How did he know this?

    1. Permell probably knew this because he and / or his lawyers have access to the witness statements uploaded by the commission which are not available to the public. What he did was in very poor judgement and shows himself in a very poor light.

  7. The EFPA policyholders ARE the victims, we are NOT the white collar criminals!
    The CoE should be interrogating the Auditors of Clico, Chairman of CL Financial, the Central Bank as regulator and every board member of Clico/CL Financial .

    Our crime : buying a central bank approved insurance product . APPROVED !!!!!!!

    If you don’t understand or do not care to understand I will suggest that you do more research into the Insurance Act and the purpose of the Statutory Fund in relation to the Insurance Act. These people have been demonised, accused wrongfully and called greedy from day 1 for buying what was supposed to be an insurance product FULLY BACKED by STATUTORY FUND deposit, and fully approved for sale by the CBTT.

    WE DID NOT DEPLETE THAT FUND! Let the CoE question those who depleted the fund and why the central bank sat idly by when it was being depleted !

    The CBTT had all rights and opportunity to raise alarm bells and alert policyholders and potential policyholders as to the true state of the Stat. Fund. If many had known, the pain felt today would have been prevented . The CBTT should have acted in a timely manner and not ” close the stables after the horses have bolted “. You continue to be misled and serve to mislead people further by mixing in opinions with minute dashes of fact if any at all. I would suggest you take up the challenge of researching the role and function of the CBTT ( easily found on their website/RE: Supervisor of Financial Institutions), what a “single premium annuity” is and the MOU signed by the GORTT. Weather (sic) you agree to breaking the MOU or not, is irrelevant – it was signed and agreed to – similar to a contract )


    1. What would help all concerned is to know exactly WHAT assets were / are lodged in or pledged to the statutory fund. One would have presumed that the really valuable assets (RBL shares, etc) are on that list but we know that CLICO had tried to have debentures from CL Financial admitted as an acceptable asset. A proper accounting of what the debts of CLICO is together with what guarantees they are on the hook for is needed together with what debts CLF contracted using assets of the group.

      Until that information is revealed then we are all blind men in a dark room.

    2. Regarding the MOU as a “contract”, if one enters into a contract and knowingly misrepresents the state of affairs is the contract still valid? If you have a contract to buy a BMW and the seller tries to pass off a 120Y do you have to accept it?

    3. Hello Andy, It seems that last post of mine – my shortest ever! – really set-off an active discussion…so here goes!

      First to begin with, the biggest victim in all this and the one with the smallest voice, is the taxpayer and the unborn, who, by virtue of the MoU, are saddled with paying for other people’s errors. We, Andy, are the biggest victims, in this perpetual search within and without for who is the bigger victim. The 30th January 2009 MoU is the most corrupt agreement ever in this country’s history, on many, many points – all of which are set out in my series of articles. That agreement and its consequences are the motivating force behind my work on this issue.

      The CoE will get to the people you list – the Auditors, Directors and the Regulators – but they must make every reasonable effort, within the law, to get at the truth. If that means that some of you silent EFPA holders are lawfully compelled to tell your story, well so be it.

      I have written extensively and critically on the role of these three groups and the CL Financial Officers in this entire man-made crisis – I called the CLF Directors and Officers, CLF chiefs – as my work on this blog will show.

      I have never, even privately, called the EFPA holders greedy or White Collar criminals, you are obviously mistaking me for someone else. Certainly, I have never written that.

      There are some inescapable facts and principles, which some people appear to have ignored –

      The greater the return, the greater the risk.
      Never put all your eggs in one basket.
      If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is….

      I am closing by reminding you that in the case of Wall St, the USA bailout is estimated to cost about 1% of GDP, but our bailout was estimated by the IMF in March 2011 to cost 10% of our GDP, after asset sales – see the report here So how are we paying for this bailout?

      I am no PP supporter, but Dookeran was absolutely right to halt the payout.

      Andy, Silence is the enemy of progress.


  8. Still Afra you continue to IGNORE the pertinent points I have listed and soon these conversations will come to an end because of your apparent bias in these matters. Let me break it down for you: should a patient go and test every single drug prescribed before taking it or send it to CARIRI for testing? Or is that the job of the FDA?

    AGAIN, why didn’t the CBTT as regulator make an announcement on the sale of EFPA policies? Why didn’t the CBTT halt or rescind the approval for sale, of this policy? Is an unsuspecting population to blame for purchasing a single premium annuity? Poorly regulated insurance companies do not fall as a job description of the T & T public. Thus far you have ignored these points and once again you are falling prey to your own biases and sticking to ill-conceived notions of extremely high interest rates. In my case it was only 1% more than the banks. What was more attractive (PLEASE LEARN THIS TODAY) was the fact that banks only covered 75k as per Deposit Insurance. However the CSI and other mutual funds at Clico were never covered by STAT FUND (hence I did not buy mutual funds) but the EFPA were covered by the STAT FUND and by extension the the Insurance Act. Your failure or unwillingness to discern the two types of policies makes your ” broad strokes ” evidently more bias.

    Do the research I suggested , and stop letting the CBTT, Supervisor of Financial Institutions and the MoF of the hook. Your easy willingness to blame the EFPA policy holders comes across as someone who likes to ignore the law and hold on to erroneous, recycled propaganda spread by the PP gov’t who is unwilling to see that the monies of the EFPA policyholders were largely responsible for the acquisition of CL prized assets, many of which were pledged for sale in the MOU and as to date remains in ” someone ” clutches , unsold , while the policyholders continue to suffer.

    Ignoring the pertinent points I have raised will only confirm in my mind that the majority of EFPA people are hated because they were percieved to be rich. How bigoted indeed !

    1. Hello Andy,

      On the question of apparent, or any other, kind of bias, there is no need to waste time since I have never claimed to be unbiased or balanced. Not once.

      I have an opinion which is what is being put out there. My opinion is based on considerable research and reflection, anyone can try to correct or improve on my work. I have as much right to my opinion as you do, so it does not seem that we should spend anymore time on that.

      I am aware that an approved product failed the investors, but it is very important to note that ‘approved’ is not the same as ‘guaranteed’. When saying so, are you of the view that the various ‘guaranteed investments’ offered by CL Financial were ever anything but wildly exuberant advertising? It is my firm view that there is no such thing as a ‘guaranteed investment’, since the very nature of investment is to take a risk…what do you say?

      The hatred for the EFPA holders to which you refer has never formed part of my thinking or my work…at no time at all.

      The wider point I will continue to make is that the absence of consequence is inimical to any development – national, regional or personal. At no point have I let the Auditors, Regulators or Directors & Officers of CLF ‘off the hook’. I am inviting you to read some of my other work here.

      Finally, although we seem to be disagreeing on the responsibility of the EFPA holders, I do believe that they hold a significant part of the story which must be told, if the Colman Commission is to get at the truth of this matter.

      Do you intend to supply documents or testify?

      Silence is the enemy of Progress.

      Thanks again for joining-in.


  9. Afra.
    What is your suggested solution to this debacle ? Choices :

    1. Let all policyholders in Clico lose every cent.
    2. Let every financial institution abscond with customers money and say ” failed investment ” soon to be called “another clico ” . So you would be right about no investment is guaranteed .
    3. When the CBTT governor called for calm and spoke of ” contaigon ” in financial sector and to roll over investments with promises of everyone getting paid , should the policyholders have called for winding up? Now that contaigon has been contained the EFPA people are now ” toxic ”
    4. Forget about what was lost and policyholders should tell their many childeren that your future is bleak
    5. Let Duprey continue living his lavish lifestyle, let the Auditors continue to lie to the CBTT and let the CBTT continue to be asleep and not be held responsible.for a preventable act.


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