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Saturday, October 21 2017 @ 05:31 PM AST

Former Central Bank governor: Trinidad & Tobago Finance Minister broke law selling Buccoo Estate


The immediate past governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago (CBTT) is accusing the finance minister who fired him for allegedly breaking the law, of also now breaking the law, and calling for him to be fired too.

The mess is part of a bigger fiasco, known as the CLICO/CL Financial bailout, unfolding before taxpayers eyes and with about $23 billion of their money.

"To understand the full extent of this mess, we must go back eight and a half years ago to February 2009, when the Central Bank assumed control of CLICO, the country’s largest insurance company, in accordance with its special emergency powers under Section 44D of the Central Bank Act. The Central Bank considered this regulatory action necessary to safeguard the interests, and to preserve the rights of CLICO’s policyholders and creditors," said former CBTT Governor Jwala Rambarran in his blog, which he said in an August 20 email was vetted by his lawyers.

He continued: "The one basic principle you must remember when dissecting this less than translucent sale of No Man's Land is: Central Bank’s actions in the management and control of CLICO’s affairs must first and foremost be about protecting the interests of the company’s 100,000 odd traditional insurance policyholders, not about seeking the interests of Government. This duty of care also applies to the acquisition or sale of any property, asset or shareholding of CLICO."

His opening allegation was that the Trinidad and Tobago government's selling of the 398-acre Buccoo Estate without advertising and public notification was against best practice and lacked transparency. He then proceeded to make at least seven more allegations including that "the Central Bank Governor (Dr. Alvin Hilaire) failed in his statutory duty to protect the interests and rights of CLICO’s policyholders and to protect CLICO from politicians."

He said: "The Central Bank Governor, cannot simply wake up on the farm one sunny morning and decide to sell off CLICO's assets. The process of selling/transferring CLICO's own assets is set in law. It not only requires oversight by the Central Bank for accountability and transparency, but also statutory independent valuations in accordance with Section 44D of the Central Bank Act and consultations with the Minister of Finance (Colm Imbert) under Section 44F (5) of the said Act."

Rambarran said: "The Minister of Finance cannot issue instructions to the Central Bank Governor to sell an asset belonging to a company under the Central Bank’s legal guardianship. It’s the Governor who must initiate, execute and complete this process."

He continued: "The Minister appears to have breached his fiduciary duty to preserve the confidentiality of that information by sharing the valuation report with his Prime Minister (Dr Keith Rowley)."


He said: "The Minister of Finance appears to have committed an egregious breach of the law when he disclosed the private confidential information of a former CLICO policyholder, not only identifying the number of policies which the policyholder had with CLICO but also the payments made to the policyholder after he accepted Government’s offer in 2012 to 'buy out' his policy rights."

Not finished there, Rambarran went on: "Given the perceived heavy and high-handed political interference of both the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the No Man’s Land fiasco, any policyholder or creditor of CLICO may now mount legal challenges to the Central Bank, seeking a judicial review of the property transaction."

He said: "The shareholders of CL Financial can also sue the government for shareholder oppression and interference with their constitutionally enshrined right to enjoyment of property. Such lawsuits would further delay and complicate CLICO’s resolution."

For Rambarran's full blog entry, visit:

No Man's Land, Tobago
PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Bennett, flickr

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