Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 28th 2017 Contents news A5
Friday, July 28, 2017 guardian.co.tt
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PM upset at
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
yesterday took umbrage to his Gov-
ernment being accused of betraying
black people, as the State moves to
recover a $15 billion debt owed by
CLF through the courts.
Rowley raised the issue while speak-
ing to the media at the Diplomatic Cen-
tre, St Ann's, noting the issue had been
a major topic of discussion in the public
"You see the discussion that took
place here last week (referring to the
court action) about this black man
company and this black company and
this black government betraying black
people, I take serious umbrage to that."
In explaining why he took offense to
the accusation, Rowley said it was the
late Dr Eric Williams who wrote that
the blackest thing in slavery was not
the black man.
"And for all of you who have talked
about black man...and black man this
and black man that, I might be the
blackest man in Trinidad and Tobago.
So black that when I was made leader of
the PNM, some of the very voices who
are now talking about black man com-
pany and being betrayed by black man,
the argument then was that I couldn't
lead the party and I couldn't lead the
country because I was too black."
Rowley said the issue now before the
court and country was not about race
and that folly must be exposed and
dismissed for what it was.
"Because that is the kind of foolish-
ness that gets the taxpayer to join like a
turkey voting for thanksgiving."
He said when taxpayers are supposed
to be supporting the Government to
protect their money, people were in-
stead encouraging them to have their
monies exposed without interest and
protection and to have their only rep-
resentative, the Government, kicked
off the CLF board.
Rowley said he hoped citizens would
understand the message he relayed.
It should have gone to Govt
CL Financial (CLF) share-
holders claim to be unaware
Angostura profits were being
transferred to CL World Brands
in Scotland. In fact, according
to them, those profits were sup-
posed to be going back to repay
their debt to government.
They also say all the information
regarding the transfer of Buccoo
Estate in Tobago and Home Con-
struction Limited's (HCL) shares
have not been put into the public
This was the response of share-
holders Kirk Carpenter and Carlton
Reis at a press conference at Jenny's
on the Boulevard, Port-of-Spain,
yesterday, hours after Prime Minis-
ter Dr Keith Rowley told the public
why the Government took CLF to
court to recover the $15 billion debt
it is owed.
"We noted that reference was
made to the Angostura Group and
payments being made to CL World
Brands (CLWB). But as far as the
shareholders are aware, the money
that was being paid out of CLWB
were used to pay off secured debts,
including payments to CIB, which is
part of the government debt," Car-
"Other payments coming from
the CLWB included the group's tax
liability owed to the Government."
Carpenter made it clear that
CLWB has properly audited ac-
counts as required by UK Law.
With respect to the transfer of
the Buccoo Estate and transfer of
HCL shares, Carpenter said those
assets were transferred to Gov-
ernment without the shareholders
being informed, adding to date no
valuation of those assets has been
presented to them.
"It is that back drop that led the
requisition to appoint two further
directors to the CLF board with the
sole purpose of expediting payment
to the Government," Carpenter
Addressing Rowley's claim that
CLF was not prepared to issue a de-
benture, Carpenter said they were
prepared to do so since under the
previous government and had al-
most reached an agreement.
"The previous government had
a structure where it would negoti-
ate with respect to the repayment
of the debt, while their directors
would run the company together
with the shareholders' directors,"
However, he said when the cur-
rent government came into power,
"there was never any approach to
have such a debenture executed."
Additionally, Carpenter said
decisions have been made by the
CLF board without input from the
As far as the company's ability
to repay their debt is concerned,
he said: "CLF's accounts, as far as
I am aware, are unaudited manage-
ment accounts and do not show
the conglomerate's true value. In
fact, Clico and CIB have been left
out of the management accounts
of CLF, but this is where most of
the group's money lies to repay the
"We should remember that Cli-
co's debt to the government is as a
policyholder, therefore their money
is inside the statutory fund of Colo-
nial Life Insurance Company, where
CLF has no access. It is therefore
impossible for CLF to instruct
Clico to pay the government as a
"Additionally, the book value of
certain assets such as HCL is not
properly valued since the majori-
ty of valuations are over a decade
old. The total asset base of the CLF
Group must be looked at in any re-
payment of the debt."
The shareholders said this was
not the first time misinforma-
tion has been placed in the public
domain, but added they had the
utmost confidence Rowley was
He said during the 16th extension
of their agreement with the gov-
ernment from June to August 2016,
the shareholders made numerous
requests to clarify the amount of
the debt but got no information.
"We had meetings with the Min-
ister of Finance in August 2016
where we were informed that the
group was requested to repay $10
billion by June 2017. The chairman
of CLF, in September 2016, asked
me to prepare a presentation as to
how the group would repay the
$10 billion debt. It was eventually
agreed for Pricewaterhouse Coop-
ers (PWC) to present a proposal to
repay the government," Carpenter
He said after meetings with
PWC, the shareholders and the
shareholder directors, PWC came
up with Project Rebirth.
"PWC gave three options availa-
ble: a group consolidated disburse-
ment to repay the debt; raising
external financing and liquidation
which was called "the nuclear op-
tion. PWC's proposal favoured the
first option," Carpenter said.
In early January 2017, Project
Rebirth was delivered to the Min-
ister of Finance on the instruction
of CLF's chairman. But since that
submission, the shareholders said
they received no feedback from the
Ministry of Finance "until some-
time in late June."
Head of the Clico Policyholders'
Group, Peter Permell, last night told
the T&T Guardian they endorsed
Carpenter's statement, but de-
clined to make any comment on
Rowley's statement until after they
had studied it.
Permell said a number of things
Rowley said may impact on his
group, whilst some may not.
"But at the end of the day, our
interests, in a sense, are intertwined
in that of the shareholders from the
perspective that if you start wind-
ing up CLF it is going to eventually
trickle down to Clico. Therefore,
we are concerned about anything
that is going to affect the fortunes
of Clico," Permell said.
CL Financial shareholder Kirk Carpenter, right, addresses members of the
media during a press conference at Jenny's on the Boulevard in Port-of-
Spain yesterday. At left is Carlton Reis, spokesman for Dalco and CL
Financial's significant shareholder Lawrence Duprey. PHOTO: ANISTO ALVES
Shareholders unaware Angostura profits were bled out...
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