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'Withhold information' - FINSAC bigwig says he wastold to keep lid on client data

Published:Thursday | February 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Managing Director of the Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC), Errol Campbell, revealed yesterday that the company to which his organisation sold its debt portfolio - the Jamaican Redevelopment Foundation (JRF) - has instructed it to limit the information it gives to debtors.

Campbell, who was on the stand for the second day running, was giving testimony before the FINSAC commission of enquiry at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston. The commission has been set up with the objective of unearthing the causes for the financial-sector crash of the 1990s.

The instructions to FINSAC were revealed during an exchange between Campbell and Dr Christian Malcolm, attorney-at-law for debtors Paul and Jennifer Hurlock.

Bitter complaints

Malcolm said that since 2008, he had been trying to obtain information from FINSAC about his clients' balance.

"Did Mrs (Sandra) Minott-Phillips write to you in or about 2008, in fact, in a letter dated November 14, 2008, instructing you not to release information to the Hurlocks?" Malcolm asked.

To this Campbell said "yes".

Since the start of the commission, debtors have complained bitterly that they have not been able to access documents about the financial positions of their loans. Instead, they have been told amounts which they should pay without any substantiation.

Campbell said that while he was not averse to disclosing information to debtors, he could not commit to this.

"I will be guided legally before I provide any sort of information in that regard," he said.

Disagreement

Campbell's lawyer, Lackston Robinson, told the commission that there is a clause in a 2002 agreement between JRF and FINSAC, which has been interpreted by JRF as precluding FINSAC from disclosing information to the debtors. Robinson said there was a dispute between FINSAC and JRF over the interpretation to which they do not agree.

Malcolm further argued that documents gleaned by him and provided by FINSAC showed that his clients had a loan balance of nil, which should have been transferred to JRF.

However, Campbell said the Hurlocks had a balance of $12 million after their initial sum of $16 million was reduced through debt forgiveness. He told the commission that the Hurlocks had 60 days to take up the offer. However, he could not say whether or not the Hurlocks were notified about this.