(Trinidad Express) They yesterday described as a “travesty of justice” the decision of former CL Financial executive chairman Lawrence Duprey and group financial director Andre Monteil to not testify at the commission of enquiry into the failure of CL Financial and the Hindu Credit Union (HCU), and lack of sanctions against Duprey and the slap on the wrist for Monteil.
The enquiry’s evidence hearings officially ended yesterday, according to lone commissioner Sir Anthony Colman.
But Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday said the Policyholders Group can rest assured that the commission is an “important stepping stone in the pursuit of justice. Sir Anthony’s report would provide an important guidance to the State on the way forward. The journey has only just begun,” Ramlogan said.
In a news release issued yesterday, the Policyholders Group (CPG) stated: “CLICO policyholders are not only disappointed, they (are) “mad vex” since they feel as though they have now been cheated twice.
“The first time was when they were told by the Government that they could not get back their life savings, and now that they were being told by the president-appointed commission of enquiry that Messrs Duprey and Monteil, the two central figures who according to the commission would be key to assisting them in understanding what really happened to their (policyholders) money, have essentially thumbed their noses at policyholders and the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago by not only blatantly refusing to appear before the commission but have also bold-facedly and shamelessly refused to answer any questions sent to them by the commission’s attorneys,” the release stated.
The CPG said the non-appearance by Duprey and Monteil was not only a travesty of justice but added further insult to injury.
“This is indeed unforgivable and not just a travesty of justice but adds further insult to injury, some may even say amounts to a colossal waste of time, resources and taxpayers’ money. Accordingly, it also brings in to question the efficacy of the Commissions of Enquiry Act, in so far as the statute appears to be impotent to treat with persons who may wish to escape scrutiny and accountability,” the release stated.
Asked whether the commission of enquiry was a waste of time, resources and money, Ramlogan said it was a “resounding success”.
He said the HCU matter was completely dealt with because Harry Harnarine gave testimony. He said he was waiting “with bated breath” on the report because he had “on his radar” the possibility of civil proceedings against many individuals and entities that may have committed civil wrong.
“I am in the process of preparing proceedings against the former HCU board. And on CLICO, I am examining what has emerged thus far and awaiting Sir Anthony’s recommendations to see whether there is actionable wrong-doing by the external auditors, the executive management and board of CL Financial, Clico and CIB”, he said. He added the fact that some persons had concerns and fears about giving evidence underscored the probing nature of the commission.
“It is my estimation that the criminal investigation would benefit in no small measure from Sir Anthony Colman’s report,” he said.
The CPG called for an amendment to the Commission of Enquiry Act “to address this unfortunate and unjust state of affairs”.
Criminal proceedings have been taken against those who failed to respond to subpoenas issued by the enquiry, excluding Duprey, who lives out of the jurisdiction.
Five more persons related to the Hindu Credit Union (HCU) aspect of the enquiry who failed to respond to subpoenas were added to the list of those who criminal proceedings have been taken against.
The five are former HCU financial consultant Jameel Ali, attorney Ashvani Mahabir, chief financial officer Gawtam Ramnanan and treasurer Yadwanath Lalchan and Dave Jagpat.
In the commission of enquiry into the attempted coup, the main protagonist, Yasin Abu Bakr, also did not testify. Ramlogan said Bakr’s appearance or non-appearance was for the historical record. Noting that no prosecution could have arisen from this commission, he said those who came before it gave “life and meaning to the untold events of July 1990”.
“I have no doubt that Sir David Simmons would prepare an insightful, analytical and useful report that would guide the Government”, he said.