Recent events have forced a further re-examination of the proposition that Lawrence Duprey and his chiefs could regain control of the CL Financial group. The Public Interest has been betrayed or badly delayed at every stage of this matter, which is the only reason we are forced to have this painful conversation.
In the BG of 27th April 2017, both Anthony Wilson and Mary King took aim at my assertion that Lawrence Duprey and his chiefs should not be allowed to regain control of the CL Financial group. Last week I responded to them, but subsequent statements from the CLF chiefs show that regaining control of the entire group is the target. Those events include the abortive meeting between Lawrence Duprey and the CLICO Policyholders’ Group, led by Peter Permell; the several press statements from Duprey and his spokesmen, Carlton Reis and Claudius Dacon and the Mid-Year Budget Review from Finance Minister, Colm Imbert.
Despite the apparent agreement between Wilson and I on the scope of the fit and proper rules, that is just academic, since the CLF chiefs seem to want to regain all their former positions.
Mary King does not accept that any wrong was done by the CLF chiefs, but instead sought to praise them by invoking the Plantation Model, as devised by the late Lloyd Best with his colleague Professor Kari Levitt. The Reparations Dimension is a useful window into these issues, especially on the day before Africa Liberation Day. (this article appeared in the Express Business on 24th May 2017)
The tragedy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is sobering in relation to this CLF fiasco – this is the point I made on 30th July 2009 about the real responsibilities of leaders, in ‘Emancipation‘.
I reflected on the roots of that historic tragedy and how it might be connected to the ongoing CLF fiasco, my point being that the exercise of true leadership and responsibility was decisive in both episodes. The deep meaning of those concepts is what is really being debated in this episode, so one has a responsibility to delve for deeper meaning in seeking solutions.
The African Reparations Movement is a broad campaign for compensation from those who benefitted from the Atlantic Slave Trade (AST). In 2013 the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) was established to develop and advance those claims. Thus far, most of the debate has been on the monetary value derived by the beneficiaries of the AST – quantifying the amount owed; to whom of those alive today are those vast sums owed?; are the reparations owed only to us in the Diaspora, or do Continental Africans also have valid claims?; How would such payments be made?; and so on.
But there is another strong debate stirring in the movement as to the adequacy of purely monetary compensation. The case being advanced is that when one considers the long-term cultural, social, economic and psychological damage inflicted by the AST and what followed, it hardly seems adequate to place a purely monetary value on compensation. What we are being invited to contemplate is that those who inflicted that great damage should not be allowed to simply write a cheque and consider the matter settled.
That debate is ongoing, but it is significant that the CRC has made as the first of its ten demands – ‘An explicit formal apology‘.
Which brings us right to Lawrence Duprey’s attempts to regain his former position. The temptation of unrealistically-high interest rates was used to attract investors across the Caribbean to the CLF group and that group used those savings, mostly short-term, to make a variety of long-term international investments.
The bailout was agreed in January 2009 with less than 1% interest charged on over $25 Billion of Public Money. We do not know the actual amount of Public Money spent on this huge bailout – my litigation to have those details published was successful in 2015, but no details were released as the State is now fighting me in the Appeal Court to conceal those details.
What is more, the CLF chiefs have not been criminally prosecuted. There is no news on the civil lawsuit the Central Bank started in June 2009, since both Lawrence Duprey and Andre Monteil were able to persuade the High Court to ‘seal’ the proceedings – i.e. the public will be the last to know.
We can surmise from the testimony at the Colman Enquiry, as well as the formal statements of the Central Bank and the current Prime Minister that the conduct of those CLF chiefs was out of order. Here is the memorable phrase used by Dr Rowley when he addressed Parliament on the Colman Report on 1st July 2016 – “…a number of adverse findings of criminal misconduct of a kleptocratic nature were found…“.
Most troubling of all, for me, is that no adverse findings have been made against the CLF chiefs under the Central Bank’s own fit and proper rules. Those rules are intended to exclude persons whose poor conduct, dishonesty, lack of understanding or responsibility make them unfit to take leadership roles in financial institutions. Those rules should be operated by the Central Bank to preserve stability in our financial system as a tangible contribution to the common-wealth. It is stunning that no action has been taken under fit and proper in this CLF matter. The failure/refusal to exercise those powers has left the CLF chiefs ‘pushing at an open door‘. I often wonder – If the Central Bank is unable or unwilling to apply fit and proper in this grievous case, is that Institution itself fit and proper?
Now we are being asked to accept that these persons could simply repay the Public Money owed and return to business as usual.
Not everyone would have the same reading on the Plantation Model, but I am sure that epic work to identify and explain the ethos and efforts of the Maroons was never intended to protect Pirates. It really would be interesting to hear the views of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies on King’s startling reading of Best’s work, but there is nary a chance of that, in all the circumstances.
Moral and ethical aspects must guide finance and business. Abandoning those is how we got here, recovering those must be part of this debate.