Pact between T&T gov’t, CL Financial extended by six months
(Trinidad Express) Government’s intervention in the collapsed CL Financial conglomerate (CLF) will not end anytime soon.
That was the opinion yesterday of CLF director Steve Castagne after a six-month extension to the Shareholders Agreement between CL Financial shareholders and the government was passed at the conglomerate’s annual general meeting at the CLICO Box at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, on Friday.
“This thing is not going to end where the government will not be involved in this group. They will always have to be. We have Methanol (Holdings) and Republic Bank shares. We have too many entities that are of national interest for the government to leave alone. That’s my opinion,” he said during an interview following the meeting.
Can the Government exit CLF?
“I don’t think that’s what the extension is about. I think the IMF has stated the critical value that this whole group has in the country, in every aspect of the country, and I think it is something which the government will be involved in for a very long time, one way or another.”
He said the government has made a provisional claim for money it injected to keep the conglomerate going. The runs into billions of dollars.
CLF was once chaired by businessman Lawrence Duprey.
“A provisional claim has been made but (Government is) not going to make a statement of claim once they meet with us,” Castagne said.
He said the government will negotiate with United Shareholders Ltd (USL), a limited liability company with CL shareholders Kirk Carpenter and Roger Duprey.
The establishment of USL was agreed to by CL Financial shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting held on May 16.
Asked what will happen in six months, Castagne responded: “It will be at a point where everyone will understand where we are at in six months and be able to go forward with it but to say that we can resolve this thing in six months—it’s too big to be resolved in six months.”
Questioned further on what comes after that, he explained: “I think this six months is for everyone to settle down and say right, this is what the claim is, this is how we satisfy the claim, this is how we go forward. Whether we go forward with the same agreement or not, nobody can tell.”
He said the past three years were plagued with challenges— there was no institutional knowledge as most of the people at CLF had left, there was a lack of documentation as forensic investigator Bob Lindquist had secured a lot of documentation from CLF when he was investigating the company based on a request from the Central Bank and the company suffered from a series of negative articles in the press.
Castagne said the plan for CLF was the same plan that they’ve been working on for the past three years: “To maximise all the assets in the group and bring everything back into a profitable situation. And that is happening. The plan is ongoing and it’s successful.”
CLF and its subsidiary CLICO recently issued pre-action protocol letters to Barbados-registered Proman Holdings as the company seeks to regain its 51 per cent shareholding in CLICO Energy Ltd, a stipulation of the Shareholders Agreement.
The Shareholders Agreement which was signed on June 12, 2009, followed the Memorandum of Understanding of January 30, 2009 signed between the government and CLF.
The Shareholders Agreement allows Government to have controlling interest on the CL Financial board.
At yesterday’s meeting all directors were voted back on the CLF board.
They are Government’s four directors- chairman Gerald Yetming, Philip Marshall, Joseph Teixeira and Adanna Toney. The three shareholder appointed directors are Andrew Mitchell QC, Robert Ramchand and Castagne.