Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has publicly given his full backing to Leroy Parris, the former Chief Executive Officer of the collapsed insurance company CLICO.
The embattled CLICO executive is currently before the High Court seeking to hold on to $3.3 million paid to him by the insurance company through Thompson and Associates, the law firm of late Prime Minister David Thompson.
CLICO was placed under judicial management in 2011, following the collapse of its Trinidad parent company CL Financial in 2009. The collapse placed the investments of thousands of policyholders across the Caribbean in jeopardy and they have been seeking compensation since.
Speaking in Parliament last night during debate on a motion of no confidence in the Government, Opposition Member of Parliament for St Andrew George Payne described Government’s handling of the matter as a “total fiasco” and accused the Freundel Stuart administration of failing to meet the timelines for the restructuring the company.
“Any restructuring plan must take into consideration the policyholders and the investors in CLICO. And all that has happened with respect to this Barbados restructuring plan is that you have brought something to Parliament, but nothing has happened,” Payne said.
He also accused Government of attempting to hide information relating to the collapse of the company.
However, in response, Prime Minister Stuart admitted that the former CLICO boss has been a friend of his for many years, going back to the 1970s.
He also described Parris as “a man of integrity” while suggesting that he would sooner put his trust in the ex-CLICO head honcho than in Opposition Leader Mia Mottley.
“Let me say this for the record tonight in the Parliament of Barbados. I prefer to have the former CEO of CLICO as my friend than the member for St Michael North East. I trust him more than I trust the member for St Michael North East,” Stuart said.
He made it clear that no favours had been exchanged between him and Parris for the duration of their friendship, since his friendships “don’t create privileges, they impose responsibilities.
“If I had to work against him in the courts of law he would have to stand up and be cross-examined by me as I would cross-examine a stranger,” said the Prime Minister, who is a lawyer by training.
“He cannot get me to in any way try to influence his fortunes from where I sit. I believe in the rule of law and the rule of law must take its course. But the one thing you will not get me to do is to say, ‘I do not know the man’, because it would not be true,” Stuart made clear.