Somebody should be in jail for the Hindu Credit Union (HCU) fiasco.
This, in a nutshell, was the position taken by Independent Senator Rolph Balgobin as he contributed to the debate on the Purchase of Certain Rights belonging to shareholders and depositors of the HCU by the Government in the Senate yesterday.
“The rule of law should extend to those who have robbed people, who have wilfully stolen,” he said. “It would be immensely important to hear what we are intending to do with the folks who perpetrated this act that has hurt so many people, injured a population and trust in the financial system...We should reach out a touch the perpetrators, embrace them, a steel embrace, with bars, if possible,” he said.
Balgobin commended the Government for restoring the injured. He said it was another example of malfeasance being foisted on the population that the people have to paid for.
“There is nobody involved in this matter who is warming the insides of an enclosed space. There are a number of the injured who have been buried or burnt...making the ultimate personal sacrifice. Does that not strike us as being inverted in some way, when the innocent suffer and the guilty run free, run roughshod and on newspapers, TV and everything else too,” he said. He said it was “fundamentally unfair”.
Balgobin said the people who put money in organisations like the HCU may not have been irresponsible, but they were responsible for seeking a certain kind of return on their investments. Noting that the question was whether they should get back 100 per cent of their investment, he said these depositors were very lucky that the Government make good on whatever sums they were owed.
PNM Senator Stuart Young called for a tightening of the provision which defines the depositors and which excludes those who were part of the governance and administration of the HCU from benefiting from the Government bailout and the indemnifying of the sums invested.
He said once a shareholder or depositor such as Harry Harnarine or any former director signed over their deposits or shares prior to October 2010, (the date of the offer of the Government to purchase the shares and deposits in exchange for bonds) to a third party, that person would have escaped under the radar and “gotten their money through the backdoor”.
*Balgobin said four things needed to be known about the HCU collapse:
the HCU failed spectacularly in 2008 and precipitated a financial crisis in an economy that had weathered the international financial crisis;
the end for the HCU was acrimonious and loud, with its president vigorously protesting his innocence ;
the “breath-taking speed” of the arrest of Allen Stanford was not mirrored here;
And therefore nobody went jail “for this crisis”.