Clico to appeal T&T court’s ruling on payment to policyholders

(Trinidad Guardian) Finance Minister Winston Dookeran says he’s not worried about Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee’s ruling for Clico to pay six Clico Executive Flexible Premium Annuity (EFPA) policyholders TT$58.7 million plus interest. Clico, he said, will appeal that decision. Dookeran said the ruling does not impact the Government’s plan to pay EFPA policyholders of over TT$75,000 an initial cheque plus 20 annual zero rated bonds. “The court hasn’t stopped us. We are continuing with a plan until the court stops us,” he told the Guardian yesterday. Last Friday, six EFPA policyholders-the St Christopher and Nevis (St Kitts and Nevis) Social Security Board, businesswoman Vindra Amar, attorneys Alvin Fitzpatrick SC and Lesley Ann Lucky-Samaroo, Darryl Arthur Goede and David Knott were victorious over Clico.

The claimants alleged breach of contract after failed attempts to cash-in their policies following the company’s collapse in January, 2009. Clico maintained that the Central Bank’s intervention suspended their obligation to pay policyholders. Dookeran explained that Clico’s liabilities fell on the Government because the insurance company was cash poor. Questioned whether more provisions will have to be in the budget for Clico, should the insurance company potentially lose upcoming legal battles, Dookeran said: “There’s no issue there.”

In May, Dookeran told the Guardian that the sale of Clico, once it becomes viable again, was part of Government’s exit strategy in its involvement in the beleaguered empire once held by Lawrence Duprey. He had said that Clico’s statutory reserves had been restored by the Government’s transfer of a percentage of Methanol Holdings shares. As for a ‘new’ Clico plan which the Government’s been shopping around, Dookeran said the sticking point has been the discount rate. “The discount rate at which the bond can be redeemed is still being reviewed,” he said. But he observed that he also has to take legislation to Parliament for the redemption of bonds.

This, he said, won’t happen until the new Parliament term begins in September. “It’s important for people to remember that the 20 year bond had to do with the debt profiling of the country and not the redemption issue,” he explained. To date, he said, over 10,000 policyholders have been paid and over 200 people have accessed the compassionate window set up by the Government. The Government also faces a winding up action filed by Dr Claude Denbow on behalf of 10 EFPA policyholders seeking to recover their investments in Clico. The Clico Policyholders Group (CPG) is joined to this application.

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