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Policyholders protest payout to former CLICO directors

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Clico Corporate Centre in Port Of Spain, Trinidad.

The president of the CLICO Policyholder's Group, Peter Permell, has raised objections to plans to pay TT$48.5 million to 10 former directors and their companies.

Permell, responding to media reports that CLICO had allocated the funds for the payout, said the minority-shareholder group was "not only flabbergasted, we are appalled as this has to be the height of insanity. For it begs the question, how in good heaven's name could anyone, in their right mind, particularly the central bank governor and the minister of finance, allow 10 individuals, comprising former CLICO directors and senior management, along with their private companies, to be paid any money, let alone TT$48.5 million ahead of the 15,000 bona fide 'assenting' third-party policyholders who were promised, but are yet to be made whole?" he said.

The Sunday Express newspaper reported that the money will be paid, without interest, from 2009. The newspaper said that the only director who will not be paid will be CL Financial (CLF) corporate secretary, Gita Sakal, because the central bank has instructed CLICO to withhold payment because of an ongoing civil matter.

"Our feedback is that many policyholders are beginning to feel betrayed since these CLICO directors are persons who would have contributed in one way or the other by their mismanagement, negligence, inaction or being complicit in the collapse of CLICO in 2009, and in some instances against whom legal action has been initiated, never appeared before the CLICO commission of enquiry, and to whom Salmon letters outlining the case against them would have already been sent," Permell said.

He described the 15,000 assenting policyholders as patriots who cooperated with the government and the central bank by accepting the offer of zero-coupon bonds and CLICO Investment Fund units in 2012 and, in doing so, he said, helped save the financial sector from contagion and systemic risk.

"The CPG is therefore calling on the central bank governor and the minister of finance to place an immediate halt to all payments to related parties, and to move, post haste, to ensure that the balance due from CLICO to all 'assenting' policyholders is paid prior to the upcoming general elections."

The former directors of the company had opted to pay a TT$2,000 fine instead of testifying before Sir Anthony Colman's commission of enquiry into CLICO.

- CMC