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CLICO must pay first before doing any more business in Guyana—Jagdeo

by Gary Eleazar

Lawrence Duprey

Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) must first pay off its debts to depositors in Guyana before being allowed to conduct business here again.

This is the firm position of Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, now opposition leader who today (April 3, 2017) weighed in on reports that CLICO was looking to re-open its doors in Guyana after being forced to liquidate back in 2009 leaving thousands in limbo.

The Opposition Leader and General Secretary of his Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), today met with media operatives at Freedom House for the party’s weekly press briefing and said while investors are welcomed into the country the CLICO matter cannot be handled anecdotally and in a fashion meant to score cheap political points.

Asked whether his position was fair since it was CLICO (Guyana) under his presidency and then Chief Executive Officer, Geeta Singh-Knight that made the risky business transactions in the first place, Jagdeo said he was simply responding to the company’s public overture to apologize.

“He (CLICO Chairman Lawrence Duprey) is saying that, I am not saying he should or should not…he himself saying I want to make right,” Jagdeo said and he sought to make the point “making right has different dimensions in our case.”

The former president said CLICO must be made to pay not only on the principal amounts owed but with interest for lost earnings.

According to Jagdeo, the current Government has at its disposal in excess of US$30B to settle all outstanding debts owed by CLICO and that the company would in fact not have to fork over a large amount but rather pay the difference on what is still owed to large depositors.

“The money sitting there can be used, they (CLICO) may not have to put in much more,” he said.

Jagdeo told reporters the former administration had managed to secure this money by disposing of CLICO assets and as such was dumbfounded at recent reports of financial instruments being given to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to settle the outstanding debt to “create the impression that this money had been lost totally.”

According to the Opposition Leader, Guyana is one of the few countries to have settled the CLICO debts at face value following the fall out that had devastating consequences across the region and pointed to countries such as Trinidad and Tobago where the same did not obtain.

Guyana, he said, did not have to resort to its treasury since it went out to tender to offload some of the CLICO properties earning just over US$30M which, according to Jagdeo, is sitting dormant in bank accounts.

As it relates to CLICO returning to Guyana, the former president—under whose presidency saw the demise of CLICO (Guyana)—used the occasion to also caution against the practice of interlocking directors, which led to the bad decision making process in the first place.

According to Jagdeo, the company had at one time, Directors sitting on the boards of Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana branches which led to a case where decisions were ot necessarily taken in the best interest of a specific branch.

According to Jagdeo, “we always welcome investors into this country but we can’t deal with the CLICO matter anecdotally.”

  • Fedup / GT

    I HOPE JAGDEO CAN GET HIMSELF AND MINISTERS TO DO THE SAME.
    BRING BACK OF THE STOLEN LOOT THEY HAVE IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES

  • Lancelot Brassington

    I agree with Jagdeo on this one, but by logical extension of his argument one would conclude that all individuals and political parties who plundered the nation’s assets should also pay back with interest and not use their immunity, whether real or imagined. Did Westie and her sidekick thief $600,000,000.00 for themselves and get away with it until the government changed. I don’t think so. A substantial portion must have been paid over to an organization headquartered at Robb St.

    • Col123

      “all individuals and political parties who plundered the nation’s assets”…You have my support…and must include both political organisations…

      • rudeo

        you mean pnc people thieving too?….aawwhhhh me nah believe dah wan

        • Col123

          Gawd loves Guyana!…no other country afford him/her/it that comedic luxury!..the reason why all Guyanese get in front of the line for heaven …

  • rudeo

    Jordan must comment on the accuracy of the statement that 30 million us dollars are already at the disposal of paying back…..I was under the impression Guyana lost ALL the money invested in CLICO

    • Emile_Mervin

      “Guyana’s NIS Gets Back Lost CLICO Funds, But Not From The Insurance Company, Caribbean360 September 17, 2016.

      GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Saturday, September 17, 2016 – Efforts to recover investments made in the now collapsed Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) are still ongoing, but Guyana’s National Insurance Scheme (NIS) won’t have to wait. The government is following through on a commitment to replace the billions of dollars the NIS lost.

      Minister of Finance Winston Jordan yesterday signed a Debenture Agreement with the NIS for an aggregated value of GUY$5.6 billion (US$26.9 million). He said the signing of the agreement and handing over of 20 debentures which will cover the period January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2036, are in keeping with the insistence of the administration that everything be done to recover the capital invested in the Trinidad-based insurance company. Each of the debentures will be redeemed on January 1 of each year.

      “We are not giving NIS a loan. What we are seeking to do is to give NIS as close as possible what they invested in CLICO. If by some miracle we were able to recover anything on behalf of NIS, it will go directly to the Consolidated Fund, but this is a final arrangement to NIS,” the minister said.

  • Emile_Mervin

    Ho-ho-ho-hold it!! T-t–time out!!! Jagdeo has the temerity to say what? Jagdeo was the President of Guyana when Clico Guyana knowingly violated Guyana’s insurance laws forbidding insurance companies from investing more than 15% of funds overseas. When Clico went belly up, it had invested 53% of its funds abroad.

    And that was despite the fact that the then Insurance Commissioner, Maria VanBeek, repeatedly wrote letters warning the then Clico boss, Geeta Singh-Knight, to cease and desist. And after Clico went belly up, VanBeek, who was leading a probe as judicial manager into the Clico debacle, was shot at the corner of Leopold and Lombard Streets while stuck in traffic. The gunman escaped on a motor bike (‘Maria van Beek survives attempt on her life’, Stabroek News, April 17, 2009). She survived a wound to the left side of her chest and fled to Canada never to return to Guyana.

    Folks rip me for attacking Jagdeo constantly, but folks don’t know the destruction this guy brought to Guyana despite the image of Guyana doing well with its dual economy.

    It has since turned out that the money Clico lost was actually invested, with help from that jailed Texan cricket sponsor, in Florida real estate. Incidentally, Florida is where some of the Pillaging Plundering Parasites have their investments from Guyana’s stolen public funds.

  • Emile_Mervin

    I support any and al calls for Guyanese to be vigilant against government corruption, whether the PPP or the Coalition is in power. However, it is counterproductive to push Jagdeo as the leader of any corruption fight. It’s like asking a cat to watchman milk or a rat to watchman cheese.