Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 1st 2015 Contents There are still roughly 900
people being negatively
affected six years after
Clico s collapse and are
waiting on the court mat-
ter to be resolved at the
Privy Council in the hope
of getting their money
and moving on with their lives, says Angeli
Gajadhar, chairperson of the United Policy-
holders Group (UPG).
"These are the people who are struggling
because they do not have access to money as
they did not take the Government s offer. There
were those who could not hold out and were
forced to take up the Government s offer of
the cash and bonds over 20 years," she told
the Business Guardian.
Gajadhar gave the example of a friend who
had cancer who eventually died in 2012 because
her executive flexible premium annuity (EFPA)
payments from Clico had stopped.
"At the time, those monthly payments from
the insurance were paying for the treatment
that helped her have a better quality of life.
It had already been determined there was
nothing to do to save her life but it was really
about having a decent life while she was alive.
When payments stopped, it meant less income
for her. Most of her money was invested in
her policy. In a few months, there was pain
The Government indicated there would be
a compassionate window and allowed her to
apply. By that time, however, she reached the
stage where there was not much she could
do. She died shortly after."
Gajadhar also spoke of another member of
the group who is 80 years old and has lost
"She retired to Florida and she was living
on income from the policy and had a mortgage
on the house which she bought at the time.
The income was paying the mortgage and
supplemented her other income. When the
money stopped from Clico she found herself
in a very bad place. She was in her 70 s and
had medical bills. She applied for the com-
passionate window. She borrowed money from
people but, not being able to pay her mortgage,
lost her home. She is now living with a relative
in Florida," she said.
She also gave her personal experience.
"Before I bought the EFPA from Clico, I
called the Central Bank in January of 2009.
I still have a file of all the documents with
everything. When I made the decision to buy,
it was not based on greed. I had an offer from
Scotiabank and I was looking for a good invest-
ment for the future but I decided to take Clico s
plan," she said.
Gajadhar spoke to the Business Guardian
two Thursdays ago at Guardian s office, St
Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.
The size of the UPG now is around 300
She said the group was formed in 2010 right
after then Finance Minister Winston Dookeran
made his budget contribution and she said he
acted as if the policyholders were being
"greedy" and that they did not deserve the
"He referred to us as depositors rather than
policyholders and it resulted in a lot of con-
fusion. Dookeran seemed not to understand
what a policyholder is. He named EFPA pol-
icyholders as depositors and said we did not
have guarantees. We then wrote to the Prime
Minister s Office. The Office of the Prime
Minster wrote to us in February 2011 and said
the matter was referred to the Minister of
Finance but we never got a response from the
Finance Minister," she said.
Around March 2011, the group approached
Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC with the hope
of taking legal action.
"Mr Maharaj had already been talking to
different people who had already approached
him. We held discussions and from there
moved along the part of legal action," she said.
She estimates there were roughly 25,000
EFPA policyholders and 40 per cent of them
had policies with cash values less than or equal
"I could see how the $75,000 application
would apply to a bank since $75,000 is the
limit for the Deposit Insurance Corporation
which is only for banks. I could not understand
how that was being applied to insurance pol-
icyholders. I think many policyholders never
thought when they bought the insurance poli-
cies this would happen. Out of our group at
least 75 per cent were retirees. Many of them
would have put their life savings and purchased
an EFPA to supplement their income."
The United Policyholders Group had
announced that it was taking its fight to the
Privy Council following a judgment made by
the Court of Appeal. In a media release in
June 2014, attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj
SC, said the appeal would have been filed and
a request was made for the matter to be expe-
dited by the Privy Council.
The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment
of the High Court, which had decided that
the members of the United Policyholders Group
were entitled to be paid the full sum due under
their policies of insurance with the accrued
The High Court had found that the previous
government had made a clear promise to guar-
antee payment of the sums due under their
policies of insurance, in consideration of them
keeping their monies in Clico.
The Court of Appeal said no such clear
promise was made to the group and there was
no legitimate expectation of a benefit and that
the government is not liable as the issues
involved macro-economic matters, which were
not an issue for the courts.
Around 14,000 individuals accepted the
20-year bonds plus cash the Government
issued while some EFPA policyholders did not.
The group of EFPA policyholders was among
thousands who, in the original plan outlined
by Dookeran, were told they would be paid
an initial sum of $75,000 and the balance
would be paid over 20 years by issuing Gov-
ernment bonds with zero interest rate.
Dookeran s plan was revised to pay those
with investments of $75,000 or under the full
value of their investments and a Clico Invest-
ment Fund was launched in November of 2012.
The assets underlying the Clico Investment
Fund were the insurance company s ownership
of 51.8 million Republic Bank shares, which
were acquired by the Government and then
to the fund. The policyholders were given the
option of converting their 11 to 20 year zero-
coupon bonds to the equivalent number of
units in the fund at a one-to-one ratio. Most
of the policyholders who did not accept either
option, chose instead to take their chances in
Gajadhar is confident and expects a victory
at the Privy Council.
"We expect that. We will be heard in the
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JANUARY 2015 • WEEK ONE
Continued on page 5
Angeli Gajadhar, chairperson of
the United Policyholders Group
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