Statement of the Hon. Sir Anthony Colman upon the presentation of the
HCU Report to His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, O.R.T.T., SC
President and Commander in Chief of the Republic of
Trinidad and Tobago
17th July 2014
As is well known, I was appointed sole Commissioner of this Enquiry on 15th November 2010 by His Excellency Prof. George Maxwell Richards following the failure in 2008-2009 of CL Financial Ltd., Colonial Life Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd., CLICO Investment Bank, British American Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd.,Caribbean Money Market Brokers Ltd., all of which can be described as “the CLICO Companies”; and Hindu Credit Union Co-operative Society Ltd., which can be referred to as “HCU”.
My Terms of Reference were lengthy and expressed in great detail. In fact they occupied 68 lines of the Trinidad and Tobago Gazette of 17 November 2010.
It is sufficient on this occasion to refer in summary to a few of the key areas to be covered by the Enquiry.
1. (i) the circumstances, factors, causes and reasons leading to the January 2009 intervention by the Government for the rehabilitation of four (4) of the CLICO Companies;
(ii) the legal and fiscal bases upon which the Government decided in January 2009 to inject capital or funding into four (4) of those CLICO companies, how such injection of capital was structured and what policies and procedures were used in the distribution of such capital or funding;
(iii) the causes, reasons and circumstances leading to the deterioration of the financial condition of the CLICO Companies and HCU which threatened the interest of depositors, investors, policyholders, creditors and shareholders of those companies;
(iv) the effectiveness of the auditing and regulatory bodies with oversight responsibilities, including the Central Bank and the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission, in carrying out their statutory or professional functions and the extent to which this failure to fulfil their functions and duties contributed to the circumstances which threatened the interests of depositors, investors, policyholders, creditors and shareholders; and
(v) whether any third party acted in a manner that misled depositors, investors, policyholders, creditors and shareholders by negligently or fraudulently misrepresenting the true financial status of the companies.
2. (i) to make findings and recommendations as to whether there are any grounds for criminal or civil proceedings against any person or entity and as to whether such proceedings should be recommended to the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Attorney General; and
(ii) to make recommendations as to whether the regulatory regime in Trinidad and Tobago should be improved so as to avoid a recurrence of the events leading to the failure of the CLICO Companies and HCU.
It appeared at a very early stage in this Enquiry that the very scope of those Terms of Reference gave rise to organizational problems.
In particular there was very little overlap between the evidence relating to the CLICO Companies and that relating to HCU.
Secondly, the investigation of what had gone wrong involved an extremely long time span going back over nine (9) years of trading. Not surprisingly the Enquiry had to consider over five (5) million documents.
Thirdly, the number of essential parties and witnesses was inevitably going to be very considerable.
In both parts fifty-seven (57) witnesses gave evidence, thirty-three (33) of whom were subpoenaed.
There were in the event fourteen (14) CLICO Parties, nine (9) HCU Parties and thirty-five (35) HCU witnesses.
It thus proved administratively impossible to conduct simultaneously that part of the Enquiry which related to the CLICO Companies and that part relating to the HCU.
In the event, the hearings covering both parts of this Enquiry occupied eighty-five (85) sitting days (twenty-seven (27) for HCU).
The first HCU witnesses gave evidence on 4 July 2011 and the last on 2 May 2013.
For obvious reasons to have prepared one Report covering both the CLICO Companies and the HCU would have involved writing one part first and then awaiting completion of the other. This would have greatly delayed presentation of the Report on the part that was written first.
Accordingly, I decided that it would be in the national interest if, as soon as one part of the Report was ready, it should be presented as a separate Report.
That is why I am presenting the Report on HCU today before the Report on the CLICO Companies.
The CLICO part involves a great deal of further work and its production depends on the availability of Counsel to the Enquiry both in London and Trinidad. Work is already well under way but, having regard to the amount of evidence to be considered, there is no way in which it can be completed before the end of this year. The task is very considerable and, like the HCU part every single word of the substantive parts has to be written by me alone.
I would only add that whether and to what extent the contents of this part of the Report are published is a matter entirely for the Government to decide. It is not a matter which I can influence.
Lastly I wish to thank for their co-operation all of the Counsel and instructing attorneys who have appeared at the hearings and filed written submissions, The support of Counsel to the Enquiry in London and Trinidad has been of very substantial help in the analysis of the evidence.
Also this Enquiry has been expertly administered by the Secretary to the Enquiry, Judith Gonzalez without whose constant support this part of the Report would still be a long way from readiness.
17th July 2014
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Secretary for the Commission