The private entity representing thousands of former CLICO policyholders has requested an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Mia Mottley to address fears that many more of its members may die without receiving “one red cent” of their savings if Government’s recent bond exchange offer is applied to their investment.
President of the Barbados Investors and Policyholders Alliance (BIPA) June Fowler said today her organization is “extremely” unhappy with the slow progress on discussions between the Ministry of Finance and Resolution Life (ResLife), the company that replaced the collapsed CLICO regarding the possible changes to the investment instruments issued to New Life Investment Company Limited by a Supreme Court order earlier this year.
“Our concern is that more of our members will pass away, adding to the 300 people who have not survived the CLICO debacle [over the past 10 years] to see their hard-earned savings being returned. These issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” Fowler said.
She said BIPA has been keeping in touch with ResLife for updates, but in an effort to both clarify and expedite solutions for the affected policyholders, the organization wrote Prime Minister Mottley since October 23 requesting an urgent meeting to confirm the status of the bond detailed in the Supreme Court-sanctioned Transfer Agreement which was designed to support payments to the Executive Flexible Premium Annuity (EFPA) policyholders spread over 10 years.
“These payments to policyholders, many of whom are in their 70s, 80s and 90s, should have started on July 31, 2018, and have now been suspended indefinitely. This is very vexing to BIPA,” the spokesperson added.
Fowler told Barbados TODAY she is even more concerned that the bond maturity period has been extended to 15 years, but needs clarity on whether this means an additional 15 years to the 10 years already covered or five added to the 10.
“This is one of the things that we need clarity on. Is it an additional five to the 10? We hope it is an additonal five to the 10 as opposed to an additional 15,” she declared.
BIPA said it also wants the discussions with the Prime Minister to deal with the “inexplicable” five-month delay in the drawdown of the final tranche of the loan agreement with the Central Bank of Barbados which is designed to meet the final payment of pension arrears, death claims and policy maturies on May 31, 2018.
“To the best of our knowledge, Central Bank loans are not, or ever have been included in the BERT [Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation] reconstruction programme…and it is therefore inexcusable that thousands of pensioners, many of whom have already had to wait 10 years, are having their final arrears payments further withheld for no apparent reason,” she argued.
“To date, BIPA still awaits a response from the Prime Minister and her team to the resquest for a meeting,” Fowler said.
Back in March this year, and after years of waiting, people who had policies with CLICO started to get money back. Former Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said then that policyholders in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) could be next in line.
Sinckler made the statement following discussions with Resolution Life’s Executive Chairman, Clenell Goodman and Chief Executive Officer, Cheryl Senhouse at the new company’s headquarters.
“We are elated that finally payments are being made, [so] we are coming good with our promise to make our policyholders whole again. It has been a long wait and much suffering….We do apologize for the length of time that it has taken, but some of those matters were beyond our immediate control, as CLICO International Life was under judicial management, supervised by the court and we had to follow those processes to the stage where we are at now,” he said back then.
Senhouse added that, on average, the payment to the annuitants was about BDS$400,000 (US$200,000) per month and payments were made for January and February of 2018.
“Thereafter, we will be ensuring that current payments to those policyholders remain on track and that the backlog of amounts that is owed to those persons is settled within the six-month timeframe that we originally would have outlined,” she explained.
In mid-March this year, the Court of Appeal overturned a decision given by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, and removed an injunction freezing $3.3 million in assets of former chairman of CLICO Barbados operations, Leroy Parris.
While Parris’ welcomed the ruling, attorney for the judicial manager, Ramon Alleyne, explained that a garnishee order at the Bank of Nova Scotia prevented Parris from touching any of the money.
This evening attorney for Parris Hal Gollop, QC told Barbados TODAY the matter still remains before the Court of Appeal.