CL Financial bailout – restating the Case, part two

The previous article delved into the meaning of counterfactual, that being a ‘baseless claim, hypothesis or belief’. I started my Season of Reflection by confronting the false narratives of certain thought leaders who are seemingly oblivious to the irrefutable and considerable achievements of the CL Financial group.

The size and scope of the CLF group make it impossible to really discuss business, investment, finance or real estate at a national or regional level without that group being a significant element in that discussion. To discuss those important topics at a national or regional level and be silent on CLICO and the CLF group is to literally ignore the Elephant in the Room. You see?

Considering that the CLF group was established, managed and owned by an African-descended group, it is mind-boggling to hear these repeated claims of Black non-achievement from people who ought to know better.

About a year ago, one of these eminent people published an article making those points about the decline of Black business in T&T and so on. When I wrote to remind him of the existence of CLICO and CLF as a fact, irrespective of what one thought of that company, his response proposed that there were many truths and so on. Postmodernism is a broad field of philosophy, but even that one was way beyond the boundary.

This week, I will examine the second counterfactual in this series – that is the ‘baseless claim, hypothesis or belief‘ that East Indian people are especially corrupt, especially those who are Hindus. We have all heard it, the love of money and the love of land and so on and so forth. Up to a few nights ago my ears twitched as a well-regarded Minister in the current administration confided those views to me, I am not sure if he recognised the sheer disbelief on my features, but he was called away before my response could be delivered.

The case I am making in this article is that the CL Financial bailout is the single largest and most corrupt act in our country’s history, if not the entire region’s history.

clf-bailoutThe CLF bailout is the hugest loan ever of perpetually-scarce Public Money to the wealthiest people in the Caribbean on the most generous terms. Sweetheart Deal does not even begin to describe this level of access to our Treasury, our Cabinet and our very Future.

That agreement is recorded in the 30 January 2009 Memorandum of Understanding and the 12 June 2009 CLF Shareholders’ Agreement, both of which are publicly available.

Consider these points about the CLF bailout –

  1. Amount

    No limit or ceiling was ever set, so the State effectively agreed to write a blank cheque to the CLF shareholders. As we are now told, the total cost is in excess of $25 Billion. By way of comparison, the Wall Street bailout in 2008 was estimated in December 2010 by the USA Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, to cost about 1% of GDP. The CLF bailout cost more than 10% of our GDP, according to the Ministry of Finance in the 2011 Budget Statement.

  2. No repayment period

    Neither of the two agreements contain any provisions to cover repayment period. In the event, the shareholders’ agreement was extended seventeen times.

  3. Interest

    Neither agreement contains any provisions as to the interest to be paid on this huge loan of Public Money. As it unfolded the first $4.9 Billion, which was paid to CLICO was done via issuing a 4.5% preference share. On the basis of a weighted average cost of capital analysis, the interest payable for that loan of over $25 Billion in Public Money is less than 1%. Yes, that is the real interest rate. In comparison, companies bailed-out on Wall Street paid over three times the prevailing base-rate to get Federal funds.

    One of the questions I was examining in getting the details of this bailout is the cost of interest and financing to the State. You see, the State had to borrow heavily to lend the CLF shareholders. That sum is $4,830,506,986.33, as at 30th June 2018. By my analysis, the monthly cost of interest and financing escalated from $30,640,697.82 per month between 30 January 2009 and 30 April 2016 to $85,895,308.99 per month between 30 April 2016 to 30 June 2018. You see?

    On this single aspect of interest, the loss of Public Money has been huge.

  4. Rationale for the bailout was what, really?

    The public was sold the CLF bailout by appeals to the plight of pensioners and the stability of the economy and so on.

    bailoutcheque1The first estimates of cost were about $5.0 Billion, but when the PP won the May 2010 election it was reported that some $7.3 Billion had been spent. The proposal made by then Finance Minister Winston Dookeran in his inaugural budget was to offer 20-year bonds to ease the burden on the Treasury. The protests and rapid organisation which followed that announcement were epic, with various Policyholders and Depositors groups being formed. When then PM, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, addressed the Parliament on 1 October 2010, her question was pregnant –

    …Because if it is today after the $7.3 Billion, all these EFPA people, the policy group and so on, they are out there, where is their money? Where is their money? Did you have a priority listing of who should be paid? Why did you go—and you are now crying crocodile tears about trade unions, credit unions, the poor man and the small man—why did you not pay them first? Why did you not pay them first? Where did that $7 Billion go?…

In closing, ask yourself who were the Chiefs in negotiating and agreeing to this epic toxic deal? How many of them were East Indian, or Hindu, for that matter? It’s a straight case of ‘Nearer to Church, further from God‘, as the old people used to say.

Advertisements

CL Financial bailout – restating the Case

“…Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories…”
—Amilcar Cabral, 1924-1973

counterfactual (plural counterfactuals)

  1. A claim, hypothesis, or other belief that is contrary to the facts.

This is the start of my Season of Reflection, my two-month period of deeper and hopefully more fruitful work. This article will appear on Wednesday, 31 July, the next day being Emancipation Day (1 August 1834), the real start of the Season, the next point being Independence Day on 31 August (1962) and the third is Republic Day on 24 September (1976). The meaning of those events is deep, as they denote the outlawing of slavery of African people to the end of British colonial rule and then the birth of our Republic, crystallizing real equality amongst humans, at an aspirational level at least. The special sequence of those holidays adds to the Season as part of our efforts to build a civilisation.

This special Season of Reflection, I am going to be taking a fresh look at the CL Financial collapse and bailout to see how those can cast a certain light. Continue reading “CL Financial bailout – restating the Case”

CL Financial bailout – After the Judgment

frank-seepersad
Justice Frank Seepersad

On 4th July 2019, the High Court (with presiding judge, Justice Frank Seepersad) ruled in my second lawsuit to get the remaining details of the CL Financial bailout. In the first lawsuit, I was able to get the details of the $10.823 Billion in Public Money paid to 13,200 named EFPA claimants within this massive bailout. CLICO sold the EFPA, which comprised most of its liabilities at the time of the CL Financial collapse in January 2009.

The ruling specified that my full costs be paid by the State, so that showed the case ended overwhelmingly in my favour. That said, there was a significant disappointment in that the ruling also specified that the payees’ names for British American Insurance Company (BAICO) and CLICO be omitted from the details to be provided within 28 days.

Continue reading “CL Financial bailout – After the Judgment”

CL Financial bailout – A Matter of Interest

CL Financial bailout – A Matter of Interest

The matter of interest is at the very centre of the collapse of CL Financial and the subsequent $25 Billion bailout, which has been conducted on terms deeply inimical to the Public Interest.

clf-bailout

The mis-match between the high cost of CLF’s borrowings and the low return on its varied investments caused that group’s collapse. The bailout was agreed to commit an undefined quantity of scarce Public Money to rescue those investors at the riskiest end of the financial market, most of whom had invested in short-term Annuities. Of course the Executive Flexible Premium Annuity (EFPA) was an insurance product approved as required by law, it would be untrue to attach any other meaning to those investments which we now know to have totalled about $11 Billion. I have always thought of Annuities as long-term investment products in the 15-20 year range, but CLF redefined terms we had thought were settled.

But the bailout itself, apart from refunding the capital of those riskiest of investors, went several steps further – Continue reading “CL Financial bailout – A Matter of Interest”

CL Financial bailout – Marking Time

On Friday 30th January 2009, the CL Financial (CLF) bailout started, so today – 30th January 2019 – is the ten-year anniversary of that fateful decision to commit Public Money to bailout the Caribbean’s largest conglomerate. The companies which were to be bailed-out were: CL Financial Ltd (CLF); Colonial Life Insurance Company Ltd (CLICO); Caribbean Money Market Brokers Ltd (CMMB); Clico Investment Bank (CIB) and British American Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd (BAICO).

clf-bailout

The mismanagement of this bailout has exceeded any mismanagement which led to the collapse of CLF, that is my view.

karen-dupreyThe bailout proceeded between 30th January 2009 and 12th June 2009, with over $5.0 Billion in Public Money paid to CLF in that period, under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between then Finance Minister, Karen Nunez-Tesheira, and Lawrence Duprey, then CLF’s Executive Chairman. That MoU governed the expenditure of this vast sum of Public Money before the 12th June signing of the CLF Shareholders’ Agreement. All of which calls into question the continued claims, in relation to the Tobago Sandals project, that MoU’s are non-binding. As we say here, is according.

There has been an incredible escalation in the cost of this bailout, from the initial estimate of $5.0 Billion, to the present expenditure exceeding $25.0 Billion. This has been a source of serious concern as priority was given to pay the claims of the CLF creditors over other urgent, public needs.

The key areas of concern are set out here – Continue reading “CL Financial bailout – Marking Time”

CL Financial bailout – closing the circle

clf-bailoutThis is an update on my efforts to get the remaining details of the CL Financial bailout in which over $25 Billion of our scarce Public Money has been spent.

Although the details of over 13,200 EFPA claimants who received $10.823 Billion were provided, the Consent Order entered in the Appeal Court on 24th January 2018 has not been fully complied with. The Ministry of Finance is now claiming that the CL Financial accounts relied upon by then Finance Minister, Winston Dookeran, in preparing his 3rd April 2012 affidavit cannot be found. Also missing in action is the list of creditors of CL Financial. I am challenging that non-compliance with the assistance of my attorneys.

After ending the lawsuit in January 2018, I made further requests for information from the Finance Ministry so that we could have all the details of all the payments made in this bailout. Those requests have now escalated to the stage that I have filed a new lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) for the refused details. Continue reading “CL Financial bailout – closing the circle”

CL Financial bailout – Evading Integrity

CL Financial bailout – Evading Integrity

On 18th April 2018 I published ‘Integrity Query’ in this space on ‘the apparent failure or refusal of The Commission to carry out its duties in relation to CLF as required by the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA)‘. My 10th September 2012 complaint to the Commission that it had not been performing its duties in relation to the Directors of CL Financial had seemingly vanished, with no real reply to be had.

Then, on 6th August 2018, The Commission gave its written response to my 2012 complaint. That brief reply stated that The Commission considered all available information relevant to my complaint and concluded that those directors were not governed by the IPLA – a further statement was made that CL Financial and its subsidiaries, including CLICO remained a private company in which the Government (sic) had a minority shareholding. (See embedded letter below.) This article delves into that entirely unacceptable reply and its meaning. Continue reading “CL Financial bailout – Evading Integrity”