T&T’s National Insurance Board seeking to recover over TT$600m from CLICO

(Trinidad Express) The aftershocks of the CL Financial collapse continue to be felt as the National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago (NIB) is seeking to recover more than TT$600 million from CL subsidiary CLICO.

The issue was brought up yesterday as officials of the NIB met with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain on the NIBTT accounts for 2010.

PAC member and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan noted that figure of TT$625 million was on the NIB books as a receivable and questioned how “realistic and practical” that was or whether it was wishful thinking.

NIB acting executive director Karen Gopaul said they had discussions with the Finance Ministry and they were still attempting to get the money. “We are hopeful in that regard,” she said.

She said the NIB believed the organisation fell under the category of creditors in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the State. PAC chairman Colm Imbert asked if the NIB hoped to recover the money from Government and Gopaul said this was one option the NIB was looking at.

Imbert responded that the money has “to come from somewhere” as there was “no money tree in the Ministry of Finance” and this would be another liability on the books. Ramlogan pointed out that the sum could artificially inflate the accounts and questioned if there was a contingency plan if it was not received and had to be written off as a bad debt.

NIB chairman Adrian Bharath said the board was looking at the “worst case scenario” regarding the impaired assets.

PAC member Anil Roberts chided the NIB for continuing to make deposits into CLICO from 2008 to 2009 when it was public knowledge that CL Financial was on the brink of collapse. He asked what measures were being put in place to ensure this did not reoccur.

Gopaul said the deposits were small and were redeposited, and noted that the NIB had a new investment policy and was looking at the limits of authority.

Roberts also asked if steps had been taken to prevent interlocking directorships as occurred with former NIB chairman Calder Hart, who was also chairman of Home Mortgage Bank and also head of the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage and Finance Company.

Bharath responded that the chairmen of these entities were all different people.

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