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CLF liquidation hearing postponed

Published: 
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

DEREK ACHONG

Government's winding up petition for CL Financial (CLF) has been postponed due to issues with legal representation for a group of the company's shareholders, who are opposed to the move.

The shareholders sought an adjournment when the petition, in which Government is asking the court to appoint liquidators to sell the company's assets to recoup the $15 billion injected into CLF's subsidiary Clico since 2009, came up for hearing in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday morning.

Presiding Judge Kevin Ramcharan acceded to the shareholders' request for time to hire a new legal team and adjourned the case to tomorrow morning.

However, he ordered the shareholders to pay the State's legal costs for yesterday's wasted hearing.

If the shareholders are able to clarify their representation in time for tomorrow's hearing, they will then have to justify why their opinions should be considered by Ramcharan before he determines the petition.

Ramcharan noted that the petition had to be dealt with expeditiously as he had deemed it fit to be heard during the Judiciary's annual vacation period.

"We will sit as long as possible on Wednesday to complete this," Ramcharan said.

While Ramcharan was considering the request made by the group of minority shareholders led by Kirk Carpenter, he also referred to similar issues with representation for CLF majority shareholder and former chairman Lawrence Duprey.

Correspondence sent to Ramcharan from the shareholders' former lawyer John Jeremie, SC, stated that his (Jeremie) continued involvement in the case was contingent on the participation of Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC.

Ramcharan noted that Maharaj's instructing attorney Ronnie Bissessar had written to the court indicating that he would not be part of the petition as they had not been retained by Durprey's holding firm Dalco for the hearings.

The move for an adjournment was strongly opposed by the Government's lawyer Deborah Peake, SC, who described it as "nonsense, unsatisfactory, inconvenient and prejudicial."

Peake said that the shareholders had enough time to prepare since the Court of Appeal appointed provisional liquidators Hugh Dickson and Marcus Wide of international accounting firm Grant Thornton in July.

As part of its order the Appeal Court restricted the powers of the provisional liquidators, only allowing them to take control and audit the company's assets in preparation for the proposed liquidation.

In a preliminary report, submitted last month, Wide noted that the company had a $4.594 billion dollar debt to its creditors in addition to its obligations to the Government over its bail-out of Clico.

The company only has $90 million in its management accounts, according to Wide.