Monday, May 21, 2012


Dear Sir Anthony,

Like most citizens of this little country I have been reading and watching
on television the revelations of the activities of the various "players" in
CLICO and the Hindu Credit Union with a mixture of horror and
fascination as your Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into their activities
continues. However, and without trying to be either rude or presumptive,
there is one particular factor that to date your CoE has not touched upon,
neither has there been any hint given that you  will or will not touch upon
it: what I am talking about is the failure of the Regulatory Authorities to
act, or to act in time.

Put another way, a question that must arise is could either the CLICO or
Hindu Credit Union debacle (or both for that matter) have been avoided
if, say, the Central Bank or the Ministry of Finance (or both) had acted
earlier? What about the Commissioner of Co-operatives? Could the
Regulatory Authorities have acted earlier to prevent what happened?
Should they have acted earlier? Were these debacles avoidable if the
Regulatory Authorities had indeed acted earlier?

Assuming (though certainly not accepting) that the answer to any of these
questions is 'yes' then the obvious question is what could they or should
they have done? And if the debacles were avoidable who in the Central Bank
was/is responsible? What about the Ministry of Finance? Who ought to
be taking responsibility? You see, if it's nobody's fault then nobody can
be asked to fix it and nobody will have to ensure that such costly
mistakes ever happen again. (You may not know it, but Nobody is a very
well known character in this country.  He is personally responsible for
more disasters here than anywhere else in the world. He used to be
in England but your compatriots threw him out of the country a long time
ago. Unfortunately for us, when you threw him out he landed up over here.)

My problem is that I happen to have a reasonably good memory, and I
remember that in or about the year 2000/2001 the then Attorney General,
Mr. Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, stood up in the Parliament of this
country and said that CLICO/CL Financial was insolvent! Now, I am
certain that you will agree with me that when an Attorney General (or
even a former Attorney General) speaks on a matter of national
importance that people ought to pay attention to what he says. If he is
wrong or foolish then the court of public opinion can and will deal
with him. But his office is so high and so important that a serious
accusation concerning such a behemoth as CL Financial is surely so
serious that it ought to be dealt with promptly.

And the point here is that it wasn't! I cannot remember any statements
at all coming from the then Governor of the Central Bank that the
Attorney General was wrong, that CL Financial was not insolvent.
Similarly, I cannot remember any statements either from the then
Minister of Finance. So? Was CLICO/CL Financial insolvent when
Mr. Maharaj made his accusation in Parliament? If so, then what did
the Regulatory Authorities do?  From where I sit they appeared to
have done nothing at all! Is this true? If the giant was solvent then
why didn't the then Governor of the Central Bank say that Mr. Maharaj
was wrong? Why didn't the then Minister of Finance say that his
Cabinet colleague was wrong? Surely the public and investors had
a right to know whether the accusation was true or not?

The then Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday, had a very close relationship
with Mr. Laurence Duprey. Mr. Panday was the godfather of Mr.
Duprey's newborn child. Did Mr. Panday "sit" on either the then Governor
or the then Minister of Finance (or on both)? What was the state of CLICO's
statutory fund at that time? Was it in deficit? If so, what was the Regulatory
Authority (which I believe is the Central Bank) doing about it? This
question is extremely serious for if the statutory fund was in deficit then
how long was it in deficit for? Did it ever go back into the "black" before
the eventual collapse? If not then what was the Regulatory Authority waiting

With the greatest of respect, Sir Anthony, and without in any way casting any
aspersions whatsoever on you, hopefully you will readily appreciate that if
you do not find answers to these questions and publicise them, then, regretably,
you will have done only part of the job for which you have been entrusted. The
matter becomes even more acute when you understand that the man who was
the Governor of the Central Bank when Mr. Maharaj made his accusations
is today the Minister of Finance; and the person who the present Minister of
Finance has put in charge of CL Financial today was at the time that Mr.
Maharaj made his accusations the then Minister of Finance.

Put another way, Sir Anthony, you are going to have to deal with this directly
sooner or later. It can't be allowed to "drop off the table".

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Robin Montano. Very pertinent observations.
    Even if it is brought up in the COE, we all know that there will be no jail time for anyone. But facts are facts and all those high and mighty ones who were in authority and who had the wherewithal to safeguard the policyholders sat idly by.