The Colonial Life Insurance Company (Clico) says it has a plan to pay the government back billions of dollars spent in bailing out the financially troubled regional insurance giant.
Former Clico Chairman Lawrence Duprey in a statement to the Trinidad Guardian newspaper disputed a claim by Finance Minister Colm Imbert earlier this week that government is owed in excess of TT$27 billion.
Imbert told Parliament during the mid year review of the budget that the government had so far spent $20.3 billion on the 2009 Clico bailout.
Imbert also said that overall the government could be owed as much as $27.7 billion.
However Duprey told the Trinidad Guardian that the company’s shareholders have submitted a plan to repay the government in full and the government has letters to this effect.
“Government is fully aware the shareholders’ agreement has expired but is continuing to operate without consulting the shareholders. The time has come to end this colossal disaster and remove this burden from the public’s neck,” he said.
The former Clico chairman said the government’s “determination to destroy Clico and CL Financial is bewildering” adding that the government did not spend $20 billion on “the so called bailout as we known that approximately 15,000 policyholders representing the largest single liability are still waiting to collect their full benefits, having been forced to wait 20 years to be repaid 85 per cent of their life’s savings.”
“Sadly most of these people will not live to dully enjoy these payments, yet we’re told $3.2 billion has been spent on advisor fees and other costs. This appears to be ‘money for the boys’ while policyholders languish on the vine.”
According to Duprey, the Finance Minister’s reference to expenditure is simply a promise to pay in the distant future “in the form of government bonds or some other arcane financial arrangement.”
He noted that the government is “fighting all the way to the Privy Council a request for openness and transparency into the financial affairs of the ‘bailout’. a request that has been upheld as a fair and legitimate right by the hight court . Yet Mr. Imbert affirms in his statement that the Clico resolution is being conducted according to the orders of the court “.
Duprey added that over six months ago in response to questions raised about the missing $6 billion of statutory funds in the Clico accounts, the Finance Minister proposed a forensic audit into the affairs of the ‘bailout’ to date, but the audit “hasn’t been forthcoming”.
Clico is part of the CL Finance Group that collapsed in 2009 and received billions of dollars in state funds.