Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ruling February 28 in CLICO challenge

HIGH Court Judge Justice Joan Charles is expected to deliver judgment on February 28 in the judicial review matter filed on behalf of the Clico United Policyholders Group, who are objecting to Government's failure to repay them the full amount due on their Executive Flexible Premium Annuities (EFPA).

The group was granted leave in April last year to challenge a bailout plan for the failed Colonial Life Insurance Company Limited (CLICO) outlined by former Finance Minister Winston Dookeran.

The policyholders have contended that there was a guarantee given by the State in 2009 that their money in Clico would be safe and, if there was any deficit in the company's statutory fund, that Government would make up the deficit.

They say Dookeran's plan to repay them their money without interest over a period of 20 years is inconsistent with the guarantee given by the previous administration led by the People's National Movement (PNM).

Attorneys representing the State argued that while a legitimate expectation was created in the policyholders that their EFPA would be repaid in full, the country simply could not afford it. It was submitted that Dookeran, after assuming office in 2010, was of the view that a $5 billion injection into Clico would have been sufficient to avert a crisis, but quickly realised that much more money was needed.

The attorneys said Government had pumped approximately $19 billion into the failed insurance company and the figure was still climbing.

The State was represented by attorneys Allan Newman QC, Russell Martineau SC, Kelvin Ramkissoon and Kerry-Ann Oliverie, while the policyholders were represented by Queen's Counsel Peter Knox, Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Vijaya Maharaj and Nyala Badal.