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Another high-profile resignation at CLICO

Published:Sunday | April 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Karen Nunez-Tesheira, minister of finance, Trinidad and Tobago, first appointed Dr Euric Bobb in February to head the CLICO board.

Linda Hutchinson-Jafar, Business Writer

Another high-profile resignation has hit embattled insurance giant Colonial Life Insurance Company Trinidad Limited (CLICO).

Dr Euric Bobb cited "personal reasons" for his resignation as chairman of the board of directors last Wednesday.

Bobb, a past governor of Trinidad's central bank, had previously quit as chairman of CL Financial Group, the parent to CLICO, shortly after he was appointed in February 2009 to provide oversight of the failed company that the Trinidad government assumed control of a month earlier.

Long-time CL group financial director Michael Carballo also resigned from his job but continues to sit as a board director. He was followed by Steve Bedeshi who quit as CL Financial's managing director at the end of January.

Claude Musaib-Ali, appointed as CLICO's chief executive officer, also opted not to renew his one-year contract.

Marlon Holder, executive director of the Unit Trust Corporation, has been appointed to replace Bobb.

Holder told reporters that he intends to focus on rebuilding confidence in the company.

"My prime objective in this new position is to restore confidence in the CL Financial Group in the shortest possible time frame," he said.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GOTT) stepped in to save CL Financial in January 2009, followed by an agreement six months later to place the management and control of the assets of the group in the hands of a government-majority board to save a number of its debt-burdened companies.

Government has already pumped $2 billion into the group.

CL Financial's new board, headed by Dr Shafeek Sultan-Khan, has been mandated to restructure the indebted conglomerate and to carry out a comprehensive audit into its companies to determine the extent of its indebtedness.

CL Financial, founded in 1993 by Trinidad-born entrepreneur Lawrence Duprey, held billions of dollars in assets in a portfolio of more than 60 companies in the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The portfolio included banking and financial services, insurance, energy, real estate, forestry, insurance, medical services and retail.

A memorandum of understanding signed in January 2009 provides a package of financial supportfrom the government with a number of conditions attached relating to the winding up of CLICO Investment Bank and the rationalisation of assets and liabilities of CLICO and British American Insurance Company.

It requires that CL Financial dispose of its 55 per cent shareholdings in Republic Bank Limited, its 56.33 per cent in Methanol Holdings Limited, Caribbean Money Market Brokers (CMMB) Limited and all or any other assets to repay the money the government will be providing during the restructuring.

CMMB is now a wholly owned subsidiary of state-controlled First Citizens Bank Limited.