(Trinidad Express) Two years after CLICO collapsed and was rescued by the former PNM government, policyholders have finally started getting back the money they invested in the country’s largest insurance company.
After several promises to repay policyholders by Christmas and then Carnival, Government has since paid approximately TT$33 million to CLICO policyholders who invested in high-interest bearing Executive Flexible Premium Annuity financial instruments offered by the company.
The Ministry of Finance said yesterday the Government had to date made the TT$33 million in payments to EFPA owners with contracts valued at TT$75,000 or less.
“This represents payments to 1,053 eligible payees,” the ministry said in an e-mailed statement.
“Over 80 per cent have chosen to have their payments deposited directly into their bank accounts and this has happened successfully.”
CLICO’s EFPAs were short-term deposit instruments which had 25,000 customers and had liabilities of about TT$12 billion, Finance Minister Winston Dookeran said last September.
There are about 10,000 policyholders who hold investments of TT$75,000 each or less. Total funding by the Government and the Central Bank to rescue CLICO as at May last year stood at TT$7.3 billion. CLICO and another CL Financial subsidiary, British American, had combined assets of about TT$16 billion but liabilities of around TT$23 billion.
The ministry said payments to CLICO EFPA customers are now being made to 350 people daily. Processing of applications started on March 10 at centres throughout the country. The ministry asked yesterday that customers continue coming in so that payments can be made quickly. The deadline for the submission of application forms is September 30. Currently customers with surnames A-J are being processed, the ministry said. People with surnames K-L will be processed from March 28.
Contacted yesterday, an EFPA customer who lives at St Augustine said she was “so happy to get the money”.
“I didn’t expect to get it back so quickly,” the mother of two told the Express.
She said she waited for a long time with little information and was still concerned that her deposit of over TT$75,000 could take a long time before she got it back.
Queen’s Counsel Sir Anthony Colman started the Commission of Enquiry into the collapse of CL Financial, CLICO and the Hindu Credit Union earlier this month. The Commission will continue in April.
Peter Permell, chairman of the CLICO Policyholders Group, said yesterday he was heartened to learn that after months of “strident advocacy and representation on behalf of policyholders, the Government has finally, at least in the first instance, began honouring its guarantee or as our legal people would say, meeting their liability to those policyholders with policy contracts of TT$75,000 and under, and for this they must be commended”.
“However, in the same breath, they must also be chastised for not honouring their guarantee to those policyholders with policy contracts of TT$75,000 and over, as we continue to maintain that this is not only unacceptable it is unlawful,” he said.
What this means is that for every day that policyholders with TT$75,000 and over are not paid, quite apart from the Government and the Central Bank reneging on their guarantee, they are now from a constitutional point of view discriminating within the same class of people, Permell said in a statement to Express. He said the group was unwavering in its resolve to take legal action against CLICO, the Central Bank and the Government if all policyholders are not paid.
* Further information about the payout process can be obtained by contacting 671-7224 or 674-7876 or visiting the following websites – www.finance.gov.tt or www.clico.com.