Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 5th 2013 Contents A6
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 5, 2013
WITH RHONA BAPTISTE
Who was yanking Lawrence Duprey s
chain? Was it his wife, Sylvia, who had
made it plain to us that she wanted T&T
and the fiasco of the CL Financial Group
of Companies behind her?
"I find most Trinidadians are friendly,"
she said on our way to a shopping mall in
Ft Lauderdale. "They are a lot of fun and
when you meet them at first they are easy
to be with."
She was driving with a silent Lawrence
sitting in the passenger seat of her black
"However, you are foolish to think that
their friendship is deep. They will hug you
and kiss you, but the next thing you know
they are sticking a knife into your back."
Or was it Lawrence s lawyers, who have
kept up the chorus that he should not have
spoken with us and that he should get us to
stop publishing the articles in the Sunday
Guardian because they are not going down
well with the Sir Anthony Colman Com-
mission of Enquiry (CoE) into the failure of
the Colonial Life Insurance Company? Or
are there some other people who were once
friends of his but who now want to run for
cover and watch every Sunday to see if he
has implicated them in one way or another?
To quote a Chinese idiom, Shu dao hu sun
san. When the tree falls the monkeys scat-
ter.On April 18, for example, Duprey, through
his Girl Friday, Cheryl Netto, sent me one
of her e-mails that said, "We have been
informed by Mr Duprey s legal advisers in
Trinidad that the commissioner of the Com-
mission of Enquiry has raised strong objec-
tions to the articles in the Guardian and they
have recommended that no further articles
be published while the enquiry is still in
I hadn t received by e-mail or post anything
from the commission advising or warning
me to stop the series of interviews, and I
knew that if that had been the wish of the
commission such advice would be sent to
the editor-in-chief, Judy Raymond, and not
to me. So I viewed it as a scare tactic of Mr
Duprey s lawyers and not advice from Sir
Was I wrong in thinking so? I recalled that
in the case of the American International
Group, the collapse had been brought about
by the interference of an ambitious attorney
general and a battalion of lawyers and I won-
dered if with CL Financial we were seeing
a re-enactment of that tragic affair.
However, Ms Netto s almost daily warning,
threat or remorse did not worry me; I didn t
think she had any right to be speaking for
But I understood that someone was behind
her insistence for me to stop the interviews
and I guessed that person or people was Mr
Duprey s band of lawyers. They could not
have been happy with Lawrence s decision
to talk with us while they were insisting to
Sir Anthony that he would not be taking the
stage at the Commission of Enquiry as other
lesser mortals had done.
The question in my mind was, why was Sir An-
thony Colman being so indulgent to Mr
Duprey? He had been the five-million-dollar
boss of Colonial Life and he had been the one
to approach the Government of T&T for the
bailout of the company.
I saw no way in which the commission
could be satisfied with a deposition from
him through lawyers about his conduct in
the business of running the conglomerate.
After all, he was not sick, dead or stranded
on Mars. Florida was a three-hour flight
It is with due respect, therefore, that I feel
that this article, the last in a series of five,
should be critical of the Sir Anthony Colman
commission for allowing Mr Duprey and/or
his team of lawyers to claim immunity from
testifying in person. How could Ms Netto in
Ft Lauderdale write me that the Commission
of Enquiry "had raised strong objections to
the articles in the Guardian and that they
have recommended that no further articles
be published while the enquiry is still in
progress"? Why not send such a warning to
the Sunday Guardian?
The more I thought about it, the more I
smelled several large rodents in Ft Lauderdale
and Port-of-Spain. And once more I saw
Mr Duprey handing over power-of-attorney,
as it were, to Ms Netto as he once did to
Gita Sakal. I don t think he ever placed such
trust and authority in the hands of Mr André
Monteil, the alleged financial wizard at Colo-
nial Life and now a retired gentleman sheep
The truth is Lawrence Duprey had not
always been worried over the effect the arti-
cles would have on the Commission of
Enquiry. From our first meeting on March
14, he had said that he was after redemption.
I knew he wasn t talking to me but to a power
higher than man, even higher than Sir Antho-
ny Colman. Later, on April 14, he had sent
me an e-mail saying that "today s article
was very good. Congratulations."
But at other times he has insisted that the
articles did not represent the conversations
we had had even though he knew our con-
versations were recorded.
On April 20, for example, Ms Netto wrote,
"I have received a copy of your e-mail to Mr
Duprey and wish to point out respectfully
that it is not a question of stopping your
work but rather at this time of not jeopar-
dising Mr Duprey s position with the CoE
and in particular the commissioner who has
already sent written objection to the articles.
He can ill afford at this time to contravene
the written instructions and recommenda-
tions of both the commissioner and his legal
advisers and it is in this vein that you were
requested, and are once again asked, to post-
pone further articles in the interim, in the
best interests of Mr Duprey. We look forward
to your co-operation."
You are right if you conclude from this
that Ms Netto was now the voice of Lawrence
Duprey or of Mr Duprey s lawyers. Why was
she given this authority? Only once was she
present at the meetings we had with
Lawrence and for only an hour or so.
Now she seemed to be the intelligence
behind all our discussions and decisions.
Now every time I wrote Mr Duprey, his reply
came through Ms Netto. His wife, Sylvia,
had ceased to be an intermediary. In fact,
she had never filled this role with me. And
in spite of what Ms Netto wrote I never did
receive any correspondence from anyone
claiming to be his lawyer and warning me
of Sir Anthony s annoyance at our Ft Laud-
But this is what Lawrence wrote me on
April 12: "It was my understanding and inten-
tion that you would write a series of articles
which would provide the public with an
accurate account of facts on topics which
would be agreed upon between us. It was
my expectation that you would have provided
me with a list of the topics for the five articles
proposed together with a brief outline of the
points to be made in each article and that
I would review and approve each article
before it went to press."
"Up to now, I have not received from you
any indication of what the forthcoming four
articles will contain."
He went on to point out that one of the
incorrect references I made in the first article
was that he was "anointed," which is false,
as his first trip to Trinidad to Clico was on
a rescue mission at the behest mainly of
Cyril Monsanto to help them clean up dif-
ficulties the company was experiencing in
administration and accounting.
"I did not receive any special treatment,"
he wrote. "On the contrary, I was never paid
and did not receive any benefits nor shares
in the company. In any event, C L Duprey
was not really keen on having family working
in the company."
His complaints continued, "Some of the
topics which would be worth mentioning in
your articles are:
1. The transformation of the company---
from a small insurance company to a global
2. The fulfilment of the vision of C L
Duprey to establish the company in the USA.
3. The mission of the company to promote
savings among the public and enable them
to own their own homes, as well as to provide
sustainable employment and this was done
through diversification of the company s
• Continues on Page A7
THE LAWRENCE DUPREY FILES: PART 5
Former CL head and Sir Anthony Colman enquiry...
Change the rules
...We must stop our habit of wasting taxpayers' money
It was my understanding and intention that you would
write a series of articles which would provide the public
with an accurate account of facts on topics which would be
agreed upon between us. It was my expectation that you
would have provided me with a list of the topics for the
five articles proposed together with a brief outline of the
points to be made in each article and that I would review
and approve each article before it went to press.
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