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Former chief justice Satnarine Sharma says Chief
Justice Ivor Archie s decision to appoint retired
judge Sebastian Ventour for a day to deliver three
outstanding judgments has brought the adminis-
tration of justice into disrepute.
Ventour resigned from the Integrity Commission
on Wednesday after serving only seven months. He
retired in 2012 and was appointed a judge for Thursday
only, as he had to deliver three outstanding judgments,
including one in a case involving Mora Ven Holdings
Ltd versus Krishna Persad and Associates Ltd.
In his letter of resignation, he explained that as
a member of the commission he was prevented by
law from delivering the judgments.
Ventour s resignation means the work of the com-
mission has been halted, as there is no one with a
legal background to constitute the commission s
In an interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday,
Sharma insisted Ventour should have finished his
job before he retired in the first instance.
"If he reached the age, he could have simply asked
for an extension. All he had to do was ask the Pres-
ident, in those circumstances, for an extension,"
"But this makes the whole thing look like a circus...a
big joke. It brings the whole thing into disrepute."
Saying the question of retired judges returning to
deliver judgments needed urgent attention and
research, Sharma said such a situation must not be
allowed to recur.
Former chief justice Michael de la Bastide also
agreed it would be beneficial to all parties for a judge
to deliver judgments before retirement.
He said if another judge had to take charge of a
case after a judge had retired, that would result in
a retrial, which could not only be long and drawn
out, but also oppressive and unfair.
De la Bastide, however, said he saw no problem
with Ventour returning to the bench to deliver three
outstanding judgments, as he would have acted in
the capacity of a judge.
"I do not know what all the fuss is about. What
is important is the judgments were delivered, and
it represents his views at the time when he is a judge
on the bench and when he was fully qualified as a
"If I had to go with the lesser of the two evils,
I would let judges come back to the bench to deliver
judgments," de la Bastide added.
Former Independent senator Martin Daly, SC, said
the issue of whether lawsuits might arise from the
judgments of retired judges was a constitutionally
"Instinctively I don t like it," Daly said.
He said judges who retired and were jumping from
one position to another and then returning to the
bench just to deliver judgments created "institutional
instability" which must, to some degree, affect public
confidence in all institutions, not just the judiciary.
Douglas Mendes, SC, meanwhile, said the substance
of the issue was the fact that Ventour had performed
his judicial duty, adding that on the basis of that
there were "no grey areas."
Saturday, February 8, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Clico, the insurance company that the
Government saved from collapse four years
ago, recorded a 2012 after-tax profit of
close to $3.8 billion, which was more than
five times greater than the $702 million it
declared in 2011.
Clico declared profits of $6.2 billion from
its investing activities for the financial year,
which eclipsed the $2.2 billion loss from
The most significant contributor to Clico s
investment profits was the $3.8 billion gain
the company booked on the disposal of some
40 million Republic Bank shares in November
2012. Those bank shares, which were then
worth about $4.3 billion, constituted 84 per
cent of the underlying investment in the
Clico Investment Fund---which converted
the 11 to 20-year zero-coupon bonds into
units in the CIF.
But while the insurance company, which
was once T&T s largest and most powerful,
is generating profits, the KPMG-conducted
audit indicates that Clico had a negative net
worth of $6.5 billion. This means that the
company s liabilities, which were recorded
at $29 billion, dwarfed its assets, which were
valued at $22.4 billion at the end of 2012.
The financial statement reveals that "the
company s board, together with the Central
Bank and the Government are working to
eliminate the current capital efficiency where
the company has excess liabilities to assets."
Clico s liabilities of $29 billion include
about $16 billion in taxpayers money, com-
prising $4.9 billion in preference shares and
close to $11 billion in Executive Flexible Pre-
mium Annuities (EFPA s) that Clico policy-
holders have ceded to the State in exchange
for cash, zero-coupon bonds and units in
the Clico Investment Fund.
Following the insurance company s dra-
matic collapse, which was announced at a
news conference at the Central Bank on Jan-
uary 30, 2009, the Government pumped $5
billion into Clico by acquiring $4.99 billion
in preference shares and $7.24 million in
That transaction resulted in Government
owning 49 per cent of the share capital of
the company, leaving Clico s parent, the
Lawrence Duprey-founded CL Financial,
with 51 per cent.
In 2009, Government was advised not to
acquire more than 49 per cent of Clico,
because to have done so would have triggered
the pre-emption rights clauses in the
Methanol Holdings (Trinidad) Ltd (MHTL)
In an interesting turn of events, Clico s
2012 financial statement reveals officially,
for the first time, the outcome of the arbi-
tration matter brought by the minority
MHTL shareholders, Consolidated Energy
Ltd, who are the claimants.
According to the financials: "The tribunal
issued a partial award on March 28, 2013,
dismissing all the claimants claims with the
exception of certain of its oppression claims.
"On November 18, 2013, the tribunal con-
cluded that the relief and remedy for this
oppression is the sale of the 56.53 per cent
shareholding held by the company in MHTL
to the claimants within a reasonable time.
"As such, the claimants and respondents
(Clico, CL Financial and MHTL) were
instructed to negotiate and agree terms of
sale by January 31, 2014.
"If no agreement is reached and no exten-
sion is requested, the tribunal reserved the
right (at that time) to set the price for the
sale (following submissions by the various
parties) based on updated market valuations
as at January 31, 2014."
The Guardian was told yesterday that the
two parties to the arbitration have not
reached agreement on the price of MHTL
and the tribunal is now in the process of
hiring an independent firm of petrochemical
Clico s 56.53 per cent stake in MHTL and
its Oman-based sister company are together
valued at $5.57 billion in the 2012 accounts,
about ten per cent less than the $6.1 billion
the insurer s stake in the companies was
valued at in 2011.
Clico s audited financial results for 2012
were published on its Web site yesterday,
after the company s board, which is chaired
by former Minister of Finance Gerald Yet-
ming, approved the financials for issue on
Pre-emption right is contractual right
to acquire certain property before it can
be offered to any other party. In the
MHTL context, it means that if there
was a change of ownership at either the
majority or the minority shareholders,
they were obliged to offer the shares to
the other side.
Clico liabilities at $29b
players have fun
while performing In
De Mirror, arranged
by Terrence "BJ"
Marcelle, during the
preliminaries at the
Arima Velodrome on
Sharma: CJ wrong
to recall Ventour
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