Lawrence Duprey, the former chairman of the troubled CL Financial (CLF) group, has been ordered to pay over US$122 million in damages to the company’s former subsidiary in the Bahamas, over a failed land development in Florida.
Delivering a 16-page judgement in a Port of Spain court on Thursday High Court Judge Ricky Rahim dismissed Duprey’s defence to the multi-million dollar lawsuit in which British American Insurance Company Ltd (Baico) was seeking the recover the money, which represents the damages awarded to it by the United States Bankruptcy Court in the South District of Florida in July, last year.
Provided that Duprey does not appeal Rahim’s decision, the company, based in Nassau, Bahamas, could move ahead to have Duprey’s local assets seized by the court and auctioned off to clear the debt.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Rahim granted Duprey’s lawyers a 28-day stay of judgement for them to consider whether to appeal.
As part of the ruling, Duprey is also required to foot 55 percent of Biaco’s legal bill for bringing the claim.
In his defense, Duprey was challenging that US court’s ruling as he claimed that it was in breach of natural justice as he was not represented by an attorney during the hearings and was not aware of the status of the case.
Rahim rejected Duprey’s claims as he pointed out that Duprey’s attorney only withdrew from the US case when it had already reached an advanced stage.
He also stated that the evidence showed that Duprey was kept informed of the progress of the case as he was regularly emailed by court officials after his attorney withdrew.
While Duprey claimed that he is not tech savvy and needed assistance in reading and replying to emails, the evidence showed that he had communication with the court via email during the hearings in Florida.
“Consequently, the court finds that the defendant’s claims of being unaware of the email was disingenuous,” Rahim said.
The proceedings in the US were over Duprey’s breach of fiduciary in the company’s investment in the Green Island real estate development in Osceola County, Florida.
Baico invested US$295 million in the project which resulted in over US$100 million in losses.
The losses forced the company into insolvency and led to subsequent multi-national insolvency proceedings.
Baico first filed its US lawsuit against Duprey and its other executives in September 2009.
Duprey did not appeal the judgement in the US as he claimed that he was prevented by health and financial constraints.
Baico filed the local proceedings against Duprey as he moved back to Trinidad and Tobago without paying the court ordered damages.