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Come clean on CLICO ‘sales’

Imbert calls on Finance Minister:

By By Camille Bethel camille.bethel@trinidadexpress.com

Member of Parliament for Diego Martin North East Colm Imbert on Friday accused the government of breaching laws relating to insurance company CLICO and challenged Minister of Finance Larry Howai to come clean on who was buying up CL Financial assets.

Speaking in the Parliament, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, Imbert said he was hearing too much about friends and family and directors of CLICO sharing up the proceeds of CL’s assets.

Imbert said he had information that Valpark Shopping Plaza and the Atlantic Plaza which belonged to the CL Financial subsidiary Home Construction was sold at undervalued prices and to people affiliated to CLICO.

He asked why these “fire sales” were taking place after $20 billion had been injected by Government to save CLICO and its parent CL Financial.

 “The government appointed board had executed a deal to sell Valpark Plaza  for $102 million and Atlantic Plaza for $60 million which is a fraction of their costs.

We are told that Valpark was sold to two persons affiliated with the CLICO Group. So I would like the minister to clear the air on that. I think it is necessary to have full and frank disclosure. If it was sold for $100 million that would be scandalous,” Imbert said.

He added that what made it worse was that CLICO had been posting profits since 2011 and there were expectations of a similar performance for 2014, but the Minister of Finance was not coming to the Parliament with the information although legislation was passed to ensure that reporting on CLICO was done in the Parliament.

Imbert said there were also rumours that there were secret negotiations being made between Government and a local conglomerate to acquire CL subsidiary Angostura.

“Can the minister tell us if this is true because Angostura is already a listed company and it is only right and proper that the government shares in Angostura be the subject of an IPO so that CLICO shares can be sold to the wider public,” he added. 

 In response to Imbert’s questions Howai acknowledged the sale of several of CL’s major assets, mainly distillers in various parts of the world, as well as the Valpark and Atlantic plazas which he said the government received more than the actual value price of the assets.

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