Following Thursday’s announcement by President Bharrat Jagdeo that the assets of CLICO (Guyana) have now been placed under judicial management, customers of the insurance company continued to flock the company’s Head Office on Camp Street yesterday to enquire about their policies.
Many had gathered with the intention of closing their accounts, this newspaper was informed but were told this was not possible.
When Stabroek News visited the company’s Head Office yesterday shortly after 11:00 am there was once again much activity with several persons requesting to surrender their policies.
At the time this newspaper visited, only one clerk was dealing with the customers at the time. The other members of staff were in a meeting with Commissioner of Insurance Maria van Beek, who has been appointed to manage the affairs of the company. Repeated efforts yesterday to contact van Beek for a comment on this meeting failed.
During his press conference, Jagdeo said that van Beek is expected to make a full assessment of CLICO’s financial position and report to the High Court within a few days. She is expected to undertake an inventory of the local company’s assets and offer critical advice on the future of CLICO (Guyana). Issues relating to staff reduction are also expected to be handled by the Commissioner.
However, some of the customers gathered were clearly worried. An employee of Guyana Power and Light (GPL) told this newspaper that he had two policies- a life and a health insurance- and was moving to have them both closed. According to him, he was told that not much could be done at this time.
He was informed that the firm was still accepting claims which they said will be processed.
Yonette Sullivan was another customer who had gone to the office to enquire about her two policies. She was informed that since one of her policies was only opened in December she would not be able to receive any payments on it.
The woman stated that she will now be moving to have both her policies closed considering the current situation. She said that she now had no trust in the financial institutions in the country since “they all were seemingly falling apart.”
Meanwhile the decision by the Bahamian government to send CLICO (Bahamas) into liquidation has caused the company’s clientele to become concerned about their investments, a report in the Freeport Newspaper said.
One client, businessman David Burger, who has life and health insurance policies and a saving plans with the company, said upon hearing of the troubles CLICO was having in Trinidad at the end of January he decided to withdraw his money from his savings plan. However, when he visited the CLICO office two weeks ago, he was told that that there was no need to worry. He was even given a key chain and a cup and reassured that everything was fine.
However, when he returned a second time to close his savings plan, he was informed that he would not be allowed to do so.
According to Burger, he is in need of his funds immediately to help sustain his 10-year-old business, which he said suffered from the economic downturn. He explained that he was on the verge of having to shutdown and stated that he was depending on personal finances to keep the business open but stated that without the availability of these funds, he will be forced to close his business.
He threatened to take legal recourse if he was forced to close his business: “Believe me, if my business fails in the next month and I had money that should have been available to me to keep my place open and to keep my people and now it’s not available, I will certainly be taking legal action.”
CLICO (Bahamas) has been sent into liquidation as a winding-up order was granted by the Supreme Court appointing Craig Gomez of Baker Tilley Gomez as liquidator for the company.
The order was issued on the application of the Minister of Finance, pursuant to his authority under the Insurance Act.
This action was taken by the minister in order to protect the interest of the policyholders of CLICO,” a statement issued by the Office of the Registrar of Insurance Companies on Tuesday said.
CLICO (Guyana) had invested 53% of its assets in the Bahamian company. Although these investments were liquid on paper investigations have revealed that this sum has been tied up in real estate investments that the CLICO (Bahamas) had in Florida.