More than two years after the insurance giant, Colonial Life Insurance Company Limited (CLICO) collapsed because of financial problems, Trinidads Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Roger Gaspard, has announced that a criminal investigation has been launched against former executives and several corporate entities aligned to the collapsed insurance company.
In a statement released late on Thursday, Gaspard also warned the media against publishing or broadcasting anything which might jeopardise, hinder or otherwise prejudice the investigation or any possible proceedings which might result from it.
I remain mindful of competing public interest factors including the fair trial rights of potential defendants, the freedom of the press and the requirement of open justice, he said.
The DPP said that the investigation is being conducted by a special team of police officers, comprising members of the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau and the Fraud Squad.
The criminal probe, which began late last week, followed a recent statement by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan that the Central Bank had spent TT$305.5 million (One TT dollar US$0.16) in legal fees between October 2007 and July 2012, for investigations relating to the collapse of CL Financial group. It involved an international team of forensic experts to track multi-million dollar transactions in several jurisdictions.
The Central Bank probe took place even as the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration appointed a commission of enquiry, chaired by Sir Anthony Colman, to probe the same issue in November 2010.
Ramlogan told reporters on Thursday night that he was aware that a criminal investigation has been launched and that he has been kept abreast of all of the developments.
I pledge my fullest support for this important investigation and shall commit to providing the necessary resources to facilitate it, said Ramlogan.
The investigation represents the ongoing process as the unravelling of the collapse of a once great financial institution that dominated the landscape with tentacles that extended into every nook and cranny of the country, he told reporters.
The Patrick Manning government injected TT$7 billion into CLICO in 2009 to keep the firm running and protect policyholders.
Last September, through the passage of legislation in the Parliament, the Kamla Persad Bissessar-led coalition People's Partnership Government committed a further TT$13 billion (US$2.01 billion) to keeping the floundering insurance company afloat.