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.
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.
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).
The mismanagement of this bailout has exceeded any mismanagement which led to the collapse of CLF, that is my view.
The 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.
This 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”→
This article summarises the total Public Money spent on this CL Financial bailout and also outlines some further concerns.
CLF BAILOUT PAYMENT SUMMARY
Interest & Finance
Services & Supplies
Source – Correspondence with Finance Ministry PS
Various payment summaries and the CL Financial Management Accounts (unaudited) for 2015, 2016 and 2017 were provided thus far in response to my requests for information of 4th May 2018. Notwithstanding those details, the Ministry is yet to respond substantively to my requests, so I have instructed my attorneys to take the necessary steps to settle this request for information.
In January 2009, this bailout started with a $5.0 Billion estimated cost. In October 2010, we were told that $7.3 Billion had been spent and that a further $7.0 Billion was needed to pay all the claims – a total of $14.3 Billion. A compilation of the Ministry’s summary data, on which I am relying, show a total of $25.95 Billion in Public Money spent at this stage, taking no account of unsatisfied creditors.
This first article for 2018 is my summary of the key issues emerging from the ongoing CL Financial bailout. Yes, the bailout started on Friday 30th January 2009 and nine years later we are still at it. We have spent at least five times more than the original estimated cost, yet the situation remains essentially unresolved.
One of the most alarming aspects of this bailout has been the staggering increase in the amount of Public Money spent. The original cost was estimated to be $5.0Bn and we were told by the Minister of Finance in his Mid-Term Budget Review on 10th May 2017 that – “…the Government may be owed up to $27.7 billion by the CLF Group…”.
Despite that huge increase in expense, about 15,000 policyholders are still to be paid, so who got that $27.7 Billion in Public Money? I sued since 2012, under the Freedom of Information Act to get details of those payments and the audited accounts of the CLF group. Despite the change of government in September 2015, after my High Court win in July of that year, the State has continued its appeal against that High Court ruling. The Appeal Court hearing of my case is set for 24th January 2018, so we will be seeing more of this issue of State secrecy in huge expenditure. Continue reading “CL Financial bailout – 2017 summary”→
Shabaka Kambon on his programme, INDABA- The Place Where Knowledge Grows, on ‘Talk City’ 91.1 FM interview Afra Raymond on the CL Financial bailout. In the discussion with him is the esteemed, Dr. Claudius Fergus. Audio courtesy 91.1 FM Programme Date: 27 September 2017 Programme Length: 00:47:15
My previous article examined the November 2007 appointment of Karen Nunez-Tesheira as our Minister of Finance by then PM, the late Patrick Manning. For whatever reason, the consternation over the appointment of Christian Mouttet to investigate the #ferrygate imbroglio is reminding me of the confusion many people felt when PM Manning made that appointment. An eerie echo from the past, in this, The Season of Reflection.
This article appears the day before the anniversary of T&T’s 55th Independence Day. This week I examine the recent claims by the CLF group and its supporters as to its Black origin and so on. Those claims can be summarised as:
‘CLF is a black-owned and controlled conglomerate which has fallen into some difficulty and had to seek a bailout…it would be a tragedy to have such a company destroyed by liquidation or otherwise by the sitting black government’
This is my interview with Rennie Bishop on 107.7 FM on Sunday 6 August 2017 to discuss the No Man’s Land transaction and other CL Financial bailout matters stemming therefrom. Video courtesy TTRN -Trinidad and Tobago Radio Network Limited.
30th January is the anniversary of the infamous 2009 CL Financial bailout, so I collaborated on this open letter to the Central Bank Governor, Dr Alvin Hilaire, to raise some urgent and important questions on the Central Bank’s management of this situation.
Our letter was sent on 31st January 2017 and was signed by David Walker, Disclosure Today and I.