Duprey lawyers get some time, probe delayed

(Trinidad Express) The Commission of Enquiry into the failure of CL Financial (CLF) and four of its subsidiaries has been pushed back to accommodate the application for a stay by the legal team of former CLF chairman Lawrence Duprey.

Initially carded to begin at 9.30 on Monday, a procedural directive was circulated by Commissioner Sir Anthony Colman yesterday, pushing back the hearing time to around 2 p.m.

While the notice said the postponement was “due to discussions taking place between the Commission and certain parties”, a source close to the enquiry said the Commission was meeting with Duprey’s legal team before the procedural hearing.

Duprey’s legal team had initially petitioned to have the hearing postponed until after the civil suit against the business mogul was completed. The enquiry is set to review questions surrounding the collapse of CL Financial and the domino effect on CLICO, Clico Investment Bank (CIB), British American Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd, Caribbean Money Market Brokers Ltd (CMMB) and the Hindu Credit Union Co-operative Society Ltd (HCU).

Harry Harnarine, head of the HCU, yesterday said he was ready for the enquiry to start.

Harnarine said despite what was reported, he never attempted to stall the enquiry, but was attempting to protect the integrity of the matters before the court.

In contrast to the cadre of high powered legal minds within the Commission, Harnarine said he was representing himself.

“My attorneys will remain before the courts to protect the matters that are before the judicial system,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Harnarine said once a matter was before the court it cannot be brought before the Commission of Enquiry.

“I was advised to carry on with the enquiry and only complain after the same matters come before the enquiry then make than appeal to the specific judge hearing that specific matter,” he said.

Harnarine said he decided not to try to stop the enquiry again but was not pulling his lawyers off his court matter to facilitate the enquiry. Harnarine has filed a lawsuit against the HCU liquidators, claiming improper liquidation of some of the credit union’s assets to pay debtors.

In January, Harnarine made headway in the lawsuit to gain control of “U Radio’.

Three Court of Appeal judges—Justices Ivor Archie, Allan Mendonca and Peter Jamadar—dismissed the procedural appeal brought by U Radio operators. HCU Communications and Harnarine had filed a lawsuit at the Port of Spain High Court seeking to enforce an agreement for the purchase of 75 per cent of “U Radio”.

“I decided that the State called the enquiry and that it (enquiry) is about the truth and I don’t need a lawyer there for me to tell the truth,” he said.

Harnarine said matters before the court were well protected, but enquiry matters were open to the public.

“I don’t think the enquiry on the other matter is going to get off the ground, because too many people in high places may get exposed,” he said.

Judith Gonzales, secretary to the Commission, yesterday said she was unable to confirm or deny whether Commissioner Colman received the application to stay the proceedings.

“All I can say at this point is no comment,” she said.

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