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WHAT MATTERS MOST: What principle!


Clyde Mascoll

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The CLICO affair offers great temptation to see a correlation between the conglomerate and its capacity to influence political outcomes in the region.
It was surprising (or was it?) to learn that Prime Minister Denzil Douglas had approached the Government of Barbados for him to represent St Kitts as an honorary consul.
This perennial friend of regional political leaders was appointed the ambassador for trade and investment in Dominica, and in time, the resumé of Leroy Parris would be fully fleshed out.
It must have come as a surprise to many members of the Democratic Labour Party to learn that the current Prime Minister and the former president of CLICO are pals; especially a former head of a CLICO agency who opposed the Executive Flexible Premium Annuities and suffered as a result.
It is now two regional prime ministers that see Mr Parris’ lawsuit against CLICO as a matter for the courts to decide and not to be assessed on principle. The failure to see something wrong with the principle of the former CEO’s action is at variance with the popular view and may be indicative of the loyalty of the CEO’s friends.
Speaking of loyalty, the late Prime Minister David Thompson and Mr Parris had a very public friendship, but the regional reach of this friendship is now being disclosed. This leaves us to wonder about the regional reach of many Barbadian political operatives who are intimately involved in elections across the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and who also happen to be kingmakers and analysts.
Is it simply a matter of coincidence that this conglomerate’s CEO was at the heart of the company’s investment strategy in the sub-region? Is it further coincidence that the kingmakers and analysts who are prominent in the ruling party’s campaigns are also very prominent in other regional campaigns?
What a coincidence it would have been for the CEO, the political consultants and analysts and the late Prime Minister to have independently formed such alliances across the region.   
In last SUNDAY SUN’s interview with Editor-in-Chief Kaymar Jordan, Prime Minister Douglas said: “Parris has been a friend. I think he has been a leading Caribbean personality. He believed in the development of the Caribbean.”
There is nothing wrong with the observations above, except that the observation which followed seemed to suggest ownership of the company: “He believed that its investment opportunities should be pursued and he placed the assets of the company where his mouth was.”     
Notwithstanding, Prime Minister Douglas made it quite clear that CLICO’s assets in St Kitts and Nevis are not sufficient to cover what has been invested in the company. This is consistent with the finding of the judicial manager’s report for the twin-island state which was published on October 9, 2009.
Governments of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union issued a communiqué on November 2, 2009 following a meeting which the late Prime Minister of Barbados attended, agreeing on a strategy to address the CLICO affair.
It was identified that the affected insurance companies were insolvent with an accumulated shortfall of assets of EC$775 million. It was also revealed that EC$301 million was taken from branches in the Eastern Caribbean to fund inter-company transactions for the purchase of property in Florida.
Though privy to all of this information, Prime Minister Douglas concluded: “I don’t think that this is the time to condemn him for pursuing aggressively what has been a principled position of his company.”  
What principle!

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