Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 24th 2014 Contents APRIL 2014 • WEEK FOUR www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | PAGE 3
Chief editor-business: ANTHONY WILSON
Editing and design: NATASHA SAIDWAN
Fax: (868) 623-2050 (Editorial)
Fax: (868) 623-2050 (Advertising)
22-24 St Vincent Street,
PO Box 122.
On November 17, 2010, President
George Maxwell Richards, act-
ing on the advice of Cabinet,
appointed Anthony Colman as
the sole Commissioner to
enquire into the failure of CL Financial, Clico,
Clico Investment Bank, British American Insur-
ance Company, CMMB and the Hindu Credit
Union Co-operative Society (HCU).
Mr Colman was asked to conduct two main
exercises: The first was to determine the facts
that caused the collapse of the financial insti-
tutions, which was framed in this way:
• The circumstances, factors, causes and
reasons leading to the January 2009 interven-
tion by the Government of the Republic of
Trinidad and Tobago for the rehabilitation of
Clico, CIB, British American Insurance Com-
pany (Trinidad) Limited and Caribbean Money
Market Brokers Limited.
• The legal and fiscal bases which informed
the decision of the Government of the Republic
of Trinidad and Tobago in January 2009 to
inject capital funding into Clico, CIB, British
American and CMMB; how that injection of
capital was structured; and what policies, pro-
cedures and processes were used in the dis-
tribution of this capital or funding;
• The causes, reasons and circumstances
leading to the deterioration of the financial
conditions of CL Financial Limited, Clico,
Clico Investment Bank Limited, British Amer-
ican Insurance Company, CMMB and the
Hindu Credit Union Co-operative Society
Limited, which threatened the interest of
depositors, investors, policyholders, creditors
and shareholders of the said companies.
Mr Colman s second main task to evaluate
those facts for two basic purposes: To ascertain
who, if anyone, was at fault in relation to the
collapse of the financial institutions and to
determine "whether there are any grounds for
criminal and civil proceedings against any per-
son or entity; whether criminal proceedings
should therefore be recommended to the Direc-
tor of Public Prosecutions for his consideration;
and whether civil proceedings should be rec-
ommended to the Attorney General for his
Mr Colman was also asked to "make rec-
ommendations aimed at preventing a recur-
rence of the circumstances of such govern-
mental or professional defects as might have
been found and which have led to the need
to set up the Enquiry."
The reason the terms of reference have been
set out at some length is because it seems
clear that Sir Anthony focused his attention
on the collapse of CL Financial and HCU and
that not enough attention was given to the
reasons behind the collapse of Clico Investment
Bank, British American and CMMB---where
thousands of investors also experienced con-
The more fundamental issue, however, is
the length of time the Colman Commission
of Inquiry has taken.
The first hearing of the commission, which
was a procedural hearing, was held on March
11, 2011. Sir Anthony held two directions hear-
ings in April 2011 and the first evidence hearing
took place on June 27, 2011. The last evidence
hearing of the Colman Inquiry took place on
May 2, 2013.
This short timeline of the Commission of
Inquiry indicates that more than three years
elapsed between the first and the last hearings
of the inquiry.
One assumes that Mr Colman has been
working on his report since May 2013, which
means that nearly a year has gone by since
the evidence hearings concluded.
As though he was preparing the country
for the length of time the writing of his report---
and the ancilliary matters thereto---would take,
Mr Colman said the following on May 2, 2013,
which was the last eveidence hearing:
"Well then, that concludes the evidence in
both parts of this Enquiry, both the Clico part
and the HCU part. This has been quite a long
haul and many people here have been involved
in it from the very outset.
It s right that I should just indicate quite
what we have been through so far. There have
been 85 sitting days. We have here, as I m sure
you appreciate, 23 parties, not perhaps all
represented today, of which 14 are Clico parties
and nine are HCU parties. There have been
altogether, and this is perhaps a rather remark-
able feature, no less than 5 million pages of
documents which have passed through the
Commission s offices and have been consid-
Seventy-seven lawyers have appeared alto-
gether, 54 advocates and 23 instructing attor-
neys. We ve heard evidence from 57 witnesses
and there have altogether been no less than
50 witness summonses issued. I emphasize
issued as distinct from served. Of those 50
witness summonses, there have been respond-
ed to no less than 33 and 17 witness sum-
monses have not been responded to. There
are altogether, as you can see, not a few files
of evidence, no less than 77 in fact altogether.
So I hope you ve got them all.
The exercise which now has to be undergone
is for the Commission to consider the sub-
missions which have been put forward in a
preliminary manner by those parties and others
to whom indications have been given that the
Commission entertains concerns about their
The next process will be the issue of Salmon
letters to some or all of them and those Salmon
letters will identify, with much more partic-
ularity, the concerns which the Commission
feels about the activities of parties who have
received them. In response to the Salmon let-
ters, it will be open to each recipient to reply
to the Commission and the replies which will
be received will then be considered by me.
It s possible, but improbable, that I will want
to hear additional evidence from recipients of
Salmon letters, but that remains to be seen.
Following the receipt of the submissions
of---following Salmon letters, I will then proceed
to produce my report."
Beyond the itemisation of the amount of
work that was ahead of him, Mr Colman s
parting words at the last evidence hearing
were important because they outlined the
process that he proposed to adopt in arriving
at a final report.
That process involved the sole commissioner
considering submissions "in a preliminary
manner" from those "to whom indications
have been given that the Commission enter-
tains concerns about their activities."
Following the consideration of submissions,
Mr Colman s task was to produce so-called
Salmon letters (named after Lord Salmon, who
chaired the Royal Commission on Tribunals
of Inquiry in 1966) which are meant to give
any party to an Inquiry advance notice of the
allegations that have been made against them.
According to Mr Colman, it is only when
those Salmon letters have been sent out and
responses received would he proceed to write
his final report.
How near is Mr Colman to the completion
of his final report?
That was the question that was put to Attor-
ney General Anand Ramlogan on Tuesday
Mr Ramlogan said that a report on the HCU
matter should be completed by June, while
the Clico report is not expected before the
end of 2014.
Asked for his view on the length of time
the reports were taking, Mr Ramlogan said:
"I would have liked for it to be done quicker.
But when one looks at the number of lawyers
involved, the number of documents that were
submitted, against the backdrop of the impli-
cations in both the civil and criminal realms,
it is apparent that Mr Colman does need to
tread with extreme caution lest his reports are
challenged by way of judicial review.
"For example, if an attorney asks for an
extension of time, that impacts on the timeline
of the Commission of Inquiry, but it may not
be prudent for the commissioner to say no,
given that the management of the process of
the Commission must be done in a way that
accords with natural justice."
It is reasonable that this process accords
with the principles of natural justice, but is
it reasonable that Mr Colman would take 18
months to conclude all of the issues surround-
ing the writing of the report on the Clico mat-
ter?Mr Colman s website describes him as an
international commercial arbitrator. One
assumes that this means that he may be work-
ing on other arbitration matters and not con-
fining all of his attention to concluding these
Given the fact that the sole commissioner
is no spring chicken---he was called to the bar
in England 52 years ago---one wonders whether
his reports will be produced as indicated by
the Attorney General.
It should be uppermost in the minds of Mr
Colman and the entire Cabinet of the People s
Partnership that the collapse of these two
financial institutions, CL Financial and HCU,
caused thousands of citizens of this country
to live in fear that billions of dollars of their
collective life savings had disappeared into
thin air as a result of the Global Financial
Crisis and financial malpractices at the two
Those thousands of citizens want the kind
of closure that can only come from the pub-
lication of the Colman report(s) into these
The country itself needs to ensure that the
lessons of the collapse of CL Financial and
HCU are thoroughly absorbed so that nothing
like that ever happens again.
But, as a collective, T&T often does not
learn, even when it gets burned.
Will this time be different?
What's become of the Colman report?
Links Archive April 23rd 2014 April 25th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page