That was the Press Release I made at the end of these protracted legal proceedings.
Timeline of this legal action
- 8 May 2012 — Request made under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) to the Ministry of Finance & The Economy;
- 29 March 2013 — Lawsuit filed to challenge the refusal of the Ministry to provide the requested information. The Ministry’s reason for refusing was that CL Financial is a private company and not a ‘public authority‘, to which the FoIA is limited;
- 22 July 2015 — High Court ruled in favour of my original Request for Information and ordered publication of the requested details;
- 10 August 2015 — The Ministry appealed the High Court ruling, citing new reasons not advanced in the earlier case;
- 24 January 2018 — At our first hearing, the Ministry resiled from its previous positions and only objected to one of the three items I requested. We agreed the terms of a Consent Order and the legal matter ended.
The bailout started in January 2009 — that is the official date at least — so it is almost nine years in progress. It is impossible to say just what caused the Ministry of Finance & The Economy to reverse its position, but at last there will be a long-overdue publication of the details of just who got paid.
Certainly, with the effluxion of those 8+ years, certain legal limitations would have accrued, such that it may well be impossible to proceed against certain persons.
On 8th August 2017, the Appeal Court ruled in favour of the State’s application to appoint Provisional Liquidators to CL Financial. As required by that ruling, the first 3-monthly Report of the Liquidator is due to be filed in the High Court at the end of January 2018. That Liquidator’s Report would comprise detailed accounts of the sort which would have negated the Ministry’s earlier objections to publishing the accounts for the CL Financial group.
It will be fascinating to examine the details when they are submitted, which I expect within the next fortnight. We will be able to see who were the real beneficiaries of this immense payout of Public Money.
Of course, the terms of the Consent Order do allow a certain latitude, so it is important to remain vigilant in this endgame. Apart from the two parties to this concluded legal battle, the fact is that most of the beneficiaries I interacted with never wanted their identities disclosed. I would be surprised if those wealthy and influential persons did not attempt to thwart the impending publication.
The final point is that the item for which I withdrew my request was the presentation made to Independent Senators in September 2011 by the then Minister of Finance & The Economy, Winston Dookeran. The fight for that item would have raised certain fascinating issues between the Freedom of Information Act and the Constitution, which at S.55 protects Parliamentarians and their proceedings from intrusion by the Courts. Those issues are sure to arise again, but both sides left them aside in reaching this agreement.