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Duprey defends role in CL Financial

Duprey defends role in CL Financial

Wed, October 24, 2012 - 11:56 AM

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Former executive chairman of the regional conglomerate, CL Financial, Lawrence Duprey, is blaming among other factors, the “refusal of government owned entities” to back the group for its financial demise in 2009.

CL Financial is the parent company of the regional insurance giant, CLICO, whose financial collapse has resulted in severe socio-economic hardship for policy holders throughout the region.

Duprey, who has filed a witness statement to the one-man Commission of Enquiry probing the collapse of the company, said there were also factors that led to the situation resulting in the Trinidad and Tobago government having to pump to date TT$21 billion (One TT dollar= US$0.16 cents) in a rescue package.

"The global collapse coinciding with an ever impossible revamp of the regulatory framework and a refusal of government- owned entities to back the Group, after all the years of benefit that they had received from the interest income that the Group had generated, led to the need for some ultimate government support. “I would have preferred ... if the intervention had not been so politically motivated and had been directed at protection for I believe, had that been the position we would have fared a great deal better,” Duprey said in the witness statement, parts of which were published in the Trinidad Express newspaper today.

Duprey, who resides in the United States, said he was “firmly of the view in January 2009 that the run on CIB (CLICO Investment Bank) and the resultant liquidity or cash-flow issues were much inspired by the decision of State- owned and run entities making decisions at or about the same time to withdraw rolling deposits which had been previously rolled over from maturity to maturity without question.

“The decision to seek the funds back came in reality out of the blue and caused severe problems,” he said, dismissing suggestions that he should be held responsible for the collapse of the company.

He described himself as "a hardworking and dedicated citizen who worked hard to create wealth for all and was instrumental in the creation of thousands of jobs" and that he never regarded the CL Financial as his "personal kingdom.

"At all times, I sought the best interests of the company so that the benefits derived would redound to the policyholders, shareholders and employees," he said.

In his witness statement, Duprey, 78, said that he had been severely hampered in the process of preparing the document, including the lack of access to material, his age and the fact that he did not have the detailed recollection that he used to of events and people he once did.

Duprey also said he is not as robust as he used to be and is not able to spend hours concentrating without becoming tired.

"This has been a life-changing and very shocking period for me since January 2009 and I have taken it all very badly," he said, defending his annual multi-million dollar income from the group.

 "Some of the risks involved included becoming a target for threats, violence and kidnapping. As with all business people I became acutely aware of the increasing severity of the repercussions of these threats, as the victims of kidnapping faced the additional risk of being murdered, whether or not a ransom was paid.

“Travel to Poland and the Middle East particularly was at times high-risk. ... I cannot recall receiving the exact amount of money that it is said I received. Consulting fees paid to my management services company Dalco Capital Management, were treated erroneously as advances, as much of the funds were used for purposes other than fees," Duprey said.

He did not disclose the precise figure paid, adding that a considerable amount of the funds paid to Dalco were channelled for purposes such as political donations to all parties; promoting youth in sport; social outreach projects and direct contributions to individuals who were extremely needy cases.

The Commission of Enquiry will resume on Thursday and the newspaper quoting sources said that the submission of the witness statement does not necessarily mean that Duprey will testify. (CMC)

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