CL Financial bailout – DoubleThink

Illustration © David Cave

‘…Doublethink is the ability to hold two completely contradictory beliefs at the same time and to believe they are both true…’
—from George Orwell’s ‘1984’

On 25 January 2017 the annual Corruption Perceptions Index report was published by Transparency International, with the results reflecting poorly on our country. T&T’s score fell from 39 in the previous year to 34 in 2016 – this scale measures greater perceptions of public sector corruption as declining scores, with the countries seen as least corrupt having the highest score. As a result of the declining score, our ranking fell from 72nd out of 168 countries to 101st out of 176. That decline in perception was a serious one and really little surprise to the attentive citizen, none whatsoever. Of course perceptions take some time to change, so the question is whether the post-September 2015 regime can improve those poor perceptions.

I believe that there is now an outbreak of tragic ‘doublethink’ within our country’s leadership, in relation to the CL Financial bailout. That must be challenged if we are to ever see any improvement in our nation’s fortunes, not to mention the slide in terms of perception of corruption.

The first chapter is the statement of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to Parliament on 1 July 2016, in relation to the Colman Report into the failure of CL Financial and four of its subsidiaries. The Colman Report was delivered to President Carmona on 22 June 2016 and passed to the PM the same day, after which it was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for his advice as to its publication.

The PM made stern remarks on the findings of the Report –

  • …Having perused the report myself…I can advise the population that it contains very serious allegations of criminal misconduct on the part of a handful of privileged individuals who were associated with the Clico/CLF group of companies…
  • …a number of adverse findings of criminal misconduct of a kleptocratic nature were found...”

The official decision to delay publication of the Report was justified on the grounds that those serious findings needed to be investigated and possible prosecutions made against the responsible parties. It was clear from Dr Rowley’s address that swift justice was on the way for these financial criminals.

Which takes us directly to the second chapter of the issue, the reports of an approach being crafted to close the bailout by returning CLF to its original shareholders. Those reports have not been publicly challenged, to my knowledge. That places before us the clear prospect of CLF’s chiefs regaining control of these companies on unknown terms. That would be a ghastly and unacceptable outcome.

If that is the negotiation which is in fact ongoing, it would do violence to the notion that legal processes should not result in a wrongdoer benefiting from their crimes. Of course there is always the possibility of an official denial or further information which gives the public a better sense of what is happening.

This is the apparent DoubleThink in relation to the CL Financial bailout and its resolution.

In that important statement, Dr Rowley emphasised the government’s commitment to openness –

…Whilst in the last five-year administration, the management of Clico, CLF and the associated companies were shrouded in secrecy by the UNC administration, this PNM Government has no intention of operating in that manner. This Government will operate in an open, transparent and accountable manner as it has been doing…

In light of those assurances, I am now calling for a clarification of this situation: ‘Is the State now engaged in negotiations to return these companies to their original shareholders?

On 31 January 2017, I co-signed an open letter to Central Bank Governor, Dr Alvin Hilaire, with colleagues David Walker and Disclosure Today. That letter made three points

  1. Regulatory Forbearance – The Central Bank has a duty to apply its own ‘fit and proper regulations’ against the CLF chiefs, especially given its 2011 lawsuit and consequent press release.
  2. Relinquishing of control of CLICO – Our reading of the Central Bank Act is that its control of CLICO ought now to be released.
  3. Resolving the conflict – The Central Bank, on its own statements, has a duty to find the CLF principals to have failed the ‘fit and proper test’, in which case they cannot regain positions as Directors, Officers or controlling Shareholders. On the other hand, there is also a compelling case that the Central Bank has to relinquish control over CLICO in accordance with its Act. There is therefore an urgent need for this apparent conflict to be resolved. The public needs to be assured that there is no chance of those persons, against whom the Central Bank is litigating, re-entering our country’s financial system in any manner which could again jeopardise our collective security.

I expect Dr Rowley to proceed with fortitude, consistent with his well-known intolerance of corruption. Indeed, our Prime Minister was not a member of the January 2009 Cabinet which made this perilous deal with CL Financial, having been relieved of his portfolio in April 2008 by the late Patrick Manning, the then PM.

We need to dispel the Doublethink.


6 thoughts on “CL Financial bailout – DoubleThink

  1. **You need to update the link to the “SIFI vs PIFI” reference at the Hertie Business School. The current link goes to thehome page of Hertie and considerable digging around is needed to find the reference you cited – look under “Opinion”. Use the link below that will get you directly to the blog item. Not SIFIs but PIFIs – a bank bailout lesson from Austria | Hertie School of Governance | | | | | |


    | | | | Not SIFIs but PIFIs – a bank bailout lesson from Austria | Hertie School of… Over the weekend of 28 February to 1 March, the Austrian government refused to help Heta Asset Resolution fill a… | |



    Please keep up the good work !!!

  2. It amazes me that after the Colman report another investigation would be requested.
    Who is paying for this?
    I am perplexed by the judgement of our leaders who continuously withhold pertinent facts from the citizens of this land,the citizens whom they have pledged to serve!
    I am flabbergasted also, by the fact that so much financial misdemeanor can be callously overlooked by those in authority!
    I am furthermore propelled to question the motives of those who uphold injustice of any kind and then nonchalantly wonder about the ripple effects of the same?Blue collar crime,white collar crime-ALL collar crime must be dealt with speedily and justly,however,the use of divers scales and measures continues to persist in T&T.Martin Luther King said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere-and this is true.Injustice has been the nemesis of countless world societies and economies for centuries.If we cannot learn from our mistakes in T&T,can’t we but learn from their mistakes-vicariously?The people lose faith when only one class of persons is continuously disrespected and punished.Yet over and over we penalize only the poor man and shower the thieves in public offices with respect,honor, praise and forgiveness and though such behavior is popular, because we live in a society where favoritism thrives,it is wrong!
    If the scales of punishment continues to be lopsided, it is only a matter of time before it capsizes…

    What about the tax payers whose portion of salaries bleed monthly into the treasuries of this land?Have we no say?Have we no representatives who empathize on our behalf?
    Must our quarter cut of taxes form an oath of nepotism and cronyism in this land?Is the PM so in need of friendship and acceptance,is he so desirous of love that he would prostitute the soul of this nation to Mr. Duprey and his team etc,etc etc…?

    Opportunistic love never last;neither does friendship out of office…

    I wish the PM would just do what is right!I know that he can!

  3. Double Think 17th February 2017

    The programmed, strategised, cognitive dissonance of double-think has lived with us always. We hypocritically deny its existence publicly but know (yeah right) that the vows we make represent the mandated mechanisms of success, so we make them. Perjury is common in and out of court, laws are meant to be broken, all ah we tief, if de priest could play who is we, he tief too much and so many other epithets that are local, regional and international teach each generation that dishonesty is clinically acceptable (white lies) but we must stay within those parenthetic boundaries. Yet other common lessons teach us mediums that challenge us to dare to be bold, break the limits, think outside the box, and the media is rife with the several bold and beautiful examples of how to think and grow rich. We are instructed to follow in the footsteps of J. D. Rockefeller, Henry Forde, C. M. Schwab and others, by some who live secure in their castles while ignoring or pretending to ignore that by their practices they have created the penury they debase.

    How is it that national security is so well funded yet so persistently inept? How is it that whistle-blowers are condemned for exposing the deception of others in a society that claims to want justice? Justitia or Lady Justice’s blindfold perhaps limits her forward vision but she seems to be quite clear about injustice at the lowest social levels. Like Camille Patrick who is amazed, perplexed and flabbergasted, I know that our PM can do what is right, but the dollar is mightier than he, his cabinet and our parliament. We must bow to the demon we have fed and keep feeding, and stop pretending that we really want justice. Not one parliamentarian can claim that he or she does not know who Afra Raymond is or what he represents or further that he is misled, yet the charade of administrative rectitude bandied arrogantly even in the many Public Accounts Committee hearings that expose the incredibly recurrent mal-administrative practices that have been recorded for centuries remain here just as acts, theatre and comic relief from the serious business of self-enrichment.

    What then is the way forward? I ask knowing that the legal system favours the criminal, knowing that many have paid with their lives (Christ) to have us walk the straight and narrow yet this is badly timed. Perhaps from Ash Wednesday we may read this or begin to think about it or we’ll make it a resolution for 2018. We are all professors of procrastination, double-think and double-speak, and blinded by the myths that better days are coming as Black Stalin sang in 1983. Vision 2000 became 2020 and is now 2050 because all ah we is one family. I have lived long, read much and listened much but I do not have much confidence in a brighter sun. Llewellyn ‘Short Pants’ Mac Intosh told me several years ago that wrong has triumphed over right and I set out to prove him wrong but I have failed miserably.

  4. keep going..AR….. for the pen is mightier than sword…
    as we go in the ” fires of hope & prayer, with boundless faith in our destiny,..we solemnly declare….”( T&T anthem)

    , please send your alert to world bank & IDB & IMF…all have good governance/anti corruption links

    Let them put T&T on intl aid ( FDI) black list until this is all aired and sorted transparently !!
    the real terrorists are white collar criminals.

    good will conquer evil ……..

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