Tag Archives: CL Financial

The ‘Grand Corruption’

afra raymond CMMB

by Afra Raymond

The recent scandals at LifeSport, Eden Gardens, THA/BOLT, CAL, CL Financial and of course, the Beetham Water Recycling Project, all show the extent to which the Treasury is being targeted by well-connected parties.

There is a constant stream of allegations of ‘Grand Corruption’, which is little surprise in our society in which an unsupported allegation is so often used to discredit an opponent. There is no comfort to be had in that observation, since the other reality is that thorough investigations and prosecutions are only done against ones political enemies, inside or outside the ruling party. That is the sobering reality in our Republic, in which we should all enjoy equal rights and be held to common standards. Different strokes for different folks, just like back in the ‘bad-old-days‘.

It seems to me that the defining question, in terms of whether the various financial crimes are taken seriously, is whether the accused persons are ‘members in good standing‘, so to speak.

The extent to which our Treasury is protected from being plundered by criminal elements is a serious question which should concern every citizen, given that the Public Money in the Treasury belongs to us as citizens and taxpayers. The frequency with which these financial crimes are overlooked is nothing less than scandalous, as any of the Auditor General’s Reports in the previous decade would attest. Permanent Secretaries approving payments in breach of financial regulations; payments made with no documents (leases, contracts or agreements) on file; failure or refusal to produce documents as required by law upon the Auditor General’s request and so many other types of lawbreaking. The same types of conduct is also rife in State Enterprises, which is why so many of the larger ones are unable to produce accounts as required by the very Ministry of Finance which sets those rules and continues to fund them.

The wicked part is that these Public Officials are virtually never charged with breaking the law or made to face any other serious consequences for their misbehaviour in Public Office. We need a new beginning in terms of how we handle the reality of our country’s wealth and its intentionally-degraded laws for controlling how our Public Money is used. A big part of that would be a political dispensation in which full investigations and prosecutions were the norm, especially when key members of the ruling party are the target of allegations.

Our budgeting process now shows all the signs that our system of Public Financial Management is ineffective in dealing with the seasoned criminals who are hard at work helping themselves to our money, whatever the political party in power. At that level, at least, there is little evidence of discrimination.

… read the full article at Afra Raymond’s blog For a Few Dollars More

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Filed under Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Court issues order: Afra Raymond can drag stonewalling Trinidad government before Judicial Review

FOI Order Trinidad

Tough guy, that Afra Raymond. Won’t take “NO!” for an answer from a government that doesn’t think it needs to obey the Freedom of Information laws.

They fired Afra from where they could in the news media and thought he’d go away – but still he walks on in search of the truth. They tried ignoring him and now he’s gone to court and obtained an order when most people thought he couldn’t.

Yup, this is getting even curiouser and curiouser!

Order granting leave to file judicial review in Afra Raymond vs Ministry of Finance and the Economy.

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Filed under Freedom Of Information, Trinidad and Tobago

The neighbourhood of CL Financial’s Lawrence Duprey

Hey… that sure looks like my place at Grape Hall!

“10 Harborage Drive, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

This spectacular Intracoastal estate home is located on a private gated island in the heart of the Venice of America. Built in a contemporary Mediterranean design, the home features an open floor plan with soaring ceilings and luxury amenities. This smart home offers both Lutron and Crestron entertainment and lighting effects. Special features include gourmet gas kitchen inside and out, gymnasium, large 3rd floor theater, sauna and up or downstairs master. The garage can accommodate eight cars.”

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption

Did former T&T Finance Minister break her oath over CLICO insider trading?

CL Financial bailout – Swearing an Oath

by Afra Raymond

The former Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Finance, Karen Nunez-Tesheira (photo above), is once again in the news, due to her dispute with the Integrity Commission as well as her expected testimony at the next session of the Colman Commission.

The former Minister has had to defend against allegations of insider trading related to her early withdrawals from CLICO Investment Bank (CIB). There was a lengthy address to the Parliament on Wednesday 4th February 2009. The March 2009 revelation in the Guardian newspaper, that Nunez-Tesheira was a CL Financial shareholder was also the cause of further defensive statements (PDF) to Parliament on 27th March 2009. In the first wave of defense, there was silence as to the fact of Nunez-Tesheira’s shareholdings in CLF.

In November, her attorney attempted to challenge my position on this at the Colman Commission, but I maintained that ‘If the genuine attempt was to address the perception of corruption in a forthright fashion, all the information should have been given’.

In the second wave of defense, there was no mention of the fact that the insolvent CL Financial group paid a dividend to its shareholders after writing that fateful letter to the Central Bank for financial assistance. Again, through the unfolding scandal we are witness to responsible officials who chose to be selective in making the required full and frank disclosure.  All to the detriment of the tax payer.

Those attempts to defend against the allegations were only partially successful, since there is little doubt that Nunez-Tesheira’s reputation has been damaged by the entire episode.  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics

Why was a profitable division of CLICO sold off?

Dear Barbados Free Press,

I don’t pretend to be knowledgeable about high finance or corporate affairs, and therefore I have to look at situations on a simple level. I’m having difficulty understanding something about how the powers that be handled the CLICO debacle. Here is my observation and questions:

In the current issue of Barbados Today, the news article “Upturn” says,

“One year after being rescued from under the beleaguered CLICO Holdings umbrella, Capita Financial Services, formerly CLICO Mortgage and Finance Company, is projecting a profit of just over one million dollars at March next year.”

Barbados Today Upturn

Why would the trustees of the CLICO mess sell off a profitable operation?

To my mind it would make more sense to hang onto it. The profit from this successful operation could have been used to shore up the rest or at least reduce the damage to policy holders who were ripped off.

That is unless the vultures saw an opportunity to grab a profitable piece of the company at the expense of the already-victimized policy holders.

Can someone please explain why this selling off of a profitable piece of CLICO was necessary and how it was good for the victims of Mr. Leroy Parris and Mr. Lawrence Duprey?

Thank you,

A fellow victim

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Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Offshore Investments

CL Financial’s “Barefoot Billionaire” Lawrence Duprey enjoying Monaco Grand Prix

Smiles come easily when spending OPM – other people’s money.

Lawrence Durprey - Barefoot Billionaire in Monaco 2007

Readers throughout the Caribbean deserve to see these photos and read the story of Lawrence Duprey and friends visiting the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix. After all – our grandchildren will be paying for Mr. Duprey’s crimes until they die. And yes, that is a US$100 “per cigar!” Cohiba in one of the photos. You can bet the wine isn’t from Tesco either.

Enjoy… but first a word about where this material comes from: Monaco Revue and DiversityCanada Foundation.

Although we are using this material under the Fair Use provisions of copyright because we are commenting upon the material and it is also public evidence of the crimes of Mr. Duprey and his gang, and therefore contains an overriding public interest in its publication at BFP, we ask each of our readers to visit Monaco Revue HERE to read the original material.

It looks like DiversityCanada Foundation and Monaco Revue have worthy goals and we encourage each of you to at least visit their websites and give them consideration.

We do note that according to the article, former Trinidad government minister Carlos John (and then “advisor” to Lawrence Duprey) is the “compatriot” of Monaco Revue’s editor.

Colman Commission evidence?

We also see that what was once an article about the elites having a good time in Monaco is now certain to be of interest to the Colman Commission inquiries into the CL Financial Fraud. Especially as the commission looks into the close relationship between Duprey and Ministers and former Ministers of the Trinidad & Tobago Government. This 2007 article is evidence of crimes and has a compelling public interest. Therefore we have been advised that the Fair Use provisions of copyright are exceptionally strong and allow us to publish the material here at BFP.

We hope that DiverstyCanada Foundation and Monaco Revue have the journalistic integrity to leave this information published at Monaco Revue.

Now on to watching Mr. Duprey and his friends spending your money on a good time… Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption

CL Financial collapse: Colman Commission hiding facts from the public

“Sir Anthony Colman needs to be watchful of the wily attorneys, who may seek again to tempt him to agree to conceal some more financial information which might be awkward for their clients.

The fact is that all those companies are now being funded by the Treasury and we have a right to know what caused this huge mess.”

The Colman Commission – The Importance of Money

by Afra Raymond

The Colman Commission was established about a year ago as a Public Enquiry into the failure of the CL Financial group, some of its subsidiaries, and the Hindu Credit Union.  The Commission is also mandated to report on the causes of these costly failures, so that it can make recommendations for possible prosecutions and the regulatory or systemic changes needed to avoid further collapses.

There has been a lot of fresh information revealed at the Commission and that is good, since the public now has a much better view of the various episodes behind the scenes.  The sole Commissioner, Sir Anthony Colman, has now made a statement which outlines his progress in this huge and complex matter.  Colman expects to take at least one more year and will be continuing his examination of the HCU matter when the CL Financial stage is completed.

Despite all the evidence about staggering sums of money and the heated public discussion that has sparked, I am perturbed by the way the essential information is being handled.

Since it is a Public Enquiry into a huge financial collapse, the financial information has to be front and centre if we are to get at the facts.

It is common knowledge that the link between performance and pay is essential in obtaining quality results in any competitive situation.  That basic fact, with which most people would agree, is now seriously challenged by some of the key events in the global financial meltdown.  It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into the new learning emerging from this global crisis, suffice to say that the old learning has literally been ‘tested to destruction’.

An unhealthy relationship between pay and performance would be a problem for any company, but in a financial company the issue is worse.  That is because the investors expect those companies to endure and prosper, so that they can collect the expected returns.

The Colman Commission will be unable to fulfill its mandate if it does not uncover the relationship between pay and performance in the failed companies.  Colman will also need to consider the motives and behaviour of the investors, who must also form a significant part of the story.  Without their participation and investments, the failed companies would have had no money to lose.

There is a strong interest in keeping the real figures and circumstances out of the news and some of the main items are –

  • The Accounts
  • The true levels of salaries, fees, dividends and bonuses
  • The identities and sums of money returned to those who have benefited from the bailout
  • The delinquent borrowers who owe the failed companies huge sums of money
  • The extent to which the failed companies and their chiefs complied with our tax laws

In ‘The Colman Commission – Cloudy Concessions’, published here on 1st September, I pointed out the danger of allowing the HCU claimants to testify without stating the amounts invested for the public record.  It was my view that those concessions represented the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ in terms of the entire exercise being a Public Enquiry into a series of financial collapses.

In this recent, third session of evidence Hearings, we have had three examples of the ‘widening wedge’ in respect of financial information. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Offshore Investments, Trinidad and Tobago