Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today broke his silence on the CLICO affair, promising to reveal ‘lots’ on those earning ‘quick money’ from the collapsed insurance company.
He also contended that an oversight committee, appointed by late Prime Minister David Thompson, would have made more progress towards financial settlement for policyholders if members of Parliament had not asked for the judicial managers to take over the matter.
Contributing to the debate on the 2015/2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure in the House of Assembly, Stuart spoke in warning terms about a “list of names” in his possession and indicated that in due course, he would expose it.
“. . . Wait. There is going to be a lot to be said on this. Do not mistake my silence for an incapacity to speak. The time will come when all things will be made clear and explained. I ain’t saying anything yet,” Stuart said.
He added: “I have a list . . . of all of the persons who invested in the Executive Flexible Premium Annuity, but I ain’t saying nothing yet. I know all the people who earning quick money, who were entranced by the lure of attractive interest rates. I know them, I have all of the names”.
The Prime Minister gave no indication of the nature of the suggested wrongdoing by persons named on the said list, but hinted that the investment might have questionable legal standing.
“It is not a traditional insurance product according to legal advice.”
Stuart said that much of the current controversy surrounding CLICO would have been avoided, or ended, if action was taken consistent with the intention of the late David Thompson, someone whose name is itself entangled in the issue as a controversial figure.
“We might have been better off if there was more trust on the respective sides of this House and the oversight committee, which had been put in place by the late honourable member for St John, had been kept in place.
“The millions of dollars that I am hearing about that have had to be paid to judicial managers . . . we wouldn’t have to pay and would have made a little more progress in this matter.”
Stating his administration will do “what the Government has to do”, Stuart said: “I hope that having agitated for the matter to be put under judicial management that we will now have the patience to wait to see it through. But let it not be forgotten that there was agitation in this House and outside for the matter to be put under judicial management.”
Stuart rose to speak after a number of Opposition members had criticized his silence and that of Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on the CLICO affair.
“Not surprisingly the issue of CLICO is being raised,” he said, but despite noting that issues concerning the company are before the court and Parliament’s Standing Orders prohibit such discussions while the case continues to heard by a judge, Stuart attacked Opposition members and others for, “trying to besmirch the reputation of the late honourable member for St John, and trying to destroy the sanctity of his memory”.
Sinckler also weighed in on the current debate, declaring that his Government had nothing to hide on CLICO.
At the same time he said he was pleased that the forensic report was unsealed for the public to see, while making it clear that the Judicial Manager, and not the Government or the Financial Services Commission, was the one who had asked for the audit to be sealed in the first place.
“I don’t know what it is that was in it [the report] that couldn’t be seen anyway other than statements that have been made, some not properly corroborated, some inaccurate if you read it, others are hearsay and all of the parties involved not being interviewed in relation to it . . .,” he said.
Sinckler also said that while members of the Opposition were blaming the Government for CLICO’s troubles, they must be mindful that “whatever was taking place at CLICO, was taking place [when] the Barbados Labour Party was in Government”.
He said it bothered him when he heard “people in here trying to destroy the name of people both living and those who have passed away, people that can’t answer for themselves”.
“Who was the Attorney General? Who was the Minister of Finance? It wasn’t Chris Sinckler or David Thompson. . . But now all of them pretending that it was the Democratic Labour Party.”
The outspoken Minister of Finance promised to speak more about the CLICO issue in future debates. He vowed that he would not only participate in the debate whenever it started, but that he would lead it, while making it clear that it was Government’s position to allow regulatory agencies in Barbados to do their work.
“They [Opposition] talking about CLICO and who send invoices and cheques. If people want to crucify or persecute this Government on that type of innuendo and rumour and gossip, we gine have them [debated] back to back.
“I want [Al] Barrack first and I want CLICO day and I want Four Seasons day too. We gine deal with them one by one, we gine deal with the Crab Hill Police Station too,” he warned.