(Trinidad Guardian) Former corporate secretary of CL Financial (CLF) Gita Sakal is being sued by the Central Bank and insurance giant Colonial Life Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd (Clico). The suit against Sakal was filed in an amended claim in the Port-of-Spain High Court last Wednesday and seeks to recover millions of dollars.
Sakal now joins her former CL Financial bosses, Lawrence Duprey, Andre Monteil and three companies—CL Financial Ltd, DALCO Capital Management Ltd and Stone Street Capital Ltd—in the claim filed by the Central Bank and Clico. Evidence in the case will not be made public, following an application by both Duprey and Monteil’s attorneys last year, in which the men sought the protection of the courts to have the matter heard in camera.
Judicial sources say when the matter came up for hearing before Justice Mira Dean-Armorer in the Port-of-Spain High Court, legal counsel for both Duprey and Monteil argued that their clients were currently the subjects of an ongoing criminal probe, and should the proceedings of the civil trial be made public, such exposure could possibly prejudice their case. The lawyers asked for the proceedings to be sealed and Dean-Armorer granted the request.
Duprey and Monteil are accused of mismanagement of Clico, and misapplication and misappropriation of the prized insurance giant’s income and assets to the detriment of its policyholders and mutual fund investors. Sakal is being accused of placing her personal interests above Clico and its policyholders, as well as assisting in breaching various procedures, protocols and mismanaging the assets and mutual funds held in Clico.
Last December, Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, in a media release, said the police had started a criminal investigation into the conduct of individuals and corporate entities involved in the collapse of Clico and related companies. Gaspard warned that the media “should not publish or broadcast anything which might jeopardise, hinder or otherwise prejudice the investigation or any possible proceedings which might result from it.”
He also wrote to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Sir Anthony Colman, QC, who is currently overseeing the Commission of Enquiry into Clico and the Hindu Credit Union, over the public hearings, saying if the enquiry went on or continued to be held in the public domain it was likely to delay a prosecution and jeopardise the police investigation.
Both Colman and Ramlogan refused to stop the enquiry or have the proceedings held in camera. Ramlogan also refused to advise the President to vary the enquiry’s terms of reference. Colman said it was ultimately up to the Government to decide whether the enquiry should continue in light of a police probe.
Duprey and Monteil were initially slated to give evidence at the enquiry. However, they subsequently indicated to Colman that following consultations with their legal team, they would not be appearing owing to the criminal probe against them. Sakal has appeared before the enquiry on several occasions and during her testimony admitted to earning a multi-million-dollar salary and bonuses. The Government has so far spent some TT$20 billion on bailing out Clico.