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Govt seeks liquidator to block CLF moves

Published: 
Friday, July 14, 2017
Finance Minister Colm Imbert ,left, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and Minister in the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Stuart Young and Works and Transport; Minister Rohan Sinanan, field question from members of the media during the post cabinet press conference at the office of the Prime Minister, St Clair yesterday.

Government applied to the court last month to get a provisional liquidator for CL Financial (CLF) to block majority shareholders from trying to regain control of CLF companies at a July 26 board meeting where they planned to put more of their members on the board.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert told yesterday’s weekly Government media briefing that the move would have given them control of the board and CLF companies since Government only had four members on the board.

Detailing Government’s apparent legal attempt to block the move, he said yesterday’s Express headline that Clico was being wound up was incorrect because the action involved CLF, Clico’s parent company. He said the matter is before a judge who has to say if Government’s application for a liquidator has merit.

Imbert, who was Works Minister in 2009, claimed the then Government’s bailout of the collapsed insurance giant was to have been for only three years but has dragged on longer. So far, Government has only got back $7.5 billion from the Methanol Holdings sale, he said.

He added that CLF majority shareholders didn’t extend their shareholders’ agreement with Government even though a new agreement was drawn up when the last one expired. He said United Shareholders Limited, representing shareholders, had intended to add two more people to the board at the July 26 meeting, threatening Government’s control of CLF and the companies involved.

Imbert said a range of companies, including Angostura, Home Construction and others, were listed in the court documents. He said Government couldn’t sit idly by and let the Clico/CLF issue drag on for years and had to seek to put CLF into liquidation.

The minister had once said the bailout debt was $20 billion, but said yesterday it could be $23 or $24 billion. Court documents put the figure at $15 billion. Imbert said since other issues are involved, the base figure is $23 billion “though it’s anticipated it’s more.”

Former Clico CEO Claudius Dacon said: “There’s no merit to Government’s application, especially since Government is inconsistent on information. Six days ago, the Prime Minister said Clico/CLF’s debt was $27 billion. Government’s affidavit on the papers states $15 billion and I’m sure the Finance Minister will say something else, so Government’s lack of accountability and transparency has led shareholders and policyholders to move to regain control of the companies.”

Chairman of the Clico Policyholders Group Peter Permell said shareholders and policyholders, who met yesterday, are at one in forming an alliance “to fight Government on this latest development.”

He said more will be said on the matter today.