Opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams today called for a deeper investigation into CLICO International Life and its sister insurance company British American Insurance (Barbados) Limited, with a view to tracking down any missing funds.
Following a 2011 a forensic audit by Deloitte Consulting into CLICO’s operations, Abrahams suggested that a further audit be done of the company’s books and anyone found guilty any malpractices should be brought before the law courts.
However, he welcomed two recent bail out packages announced by the Freundel Stuart administration for the two insurance companies saying the national debate had long moved past the point of whether Government should have bailed out the two companies or not.
“It has moved past that, it is now when and how much,” the Opposition legislator told the Upper House, pointing out that “each one of us in this Chamber knows someone who has been affected by the collapse of BIACO and CLICO [and] you cannot but feel for them”.
However, he maintained that if one takes a step back and looks at the companies, one would see an environment of very lax regulatory control on insurance companies and companies in general in Barbados.
Abrahams, who is the caretaker BLP candidate for Christ Church East, noted that Government has undertaken a debt of $400 million in relief for the BAICO and CLICO policyholders, while stressing that it could not afford to bail out companies and not “close the door where the horse came from”.
Abrahams, who is an attorney-at-law, questioned what regulatory oversight had been put in place following collapse of the two companies.
“To my knowledge, there has been no serious amendment or revision in the policies or the practices that existed at the time to allow the collapse to happen. The question is, now that we have undertaken to inject $400 million what is the Government doing to ensure that it does not happen again. It is a lot of money. Money does not drop like manna from the sky, that money is provided by the taxpayers of Barbados,” he argued, while emphasizing the need for a new forensic investigation.