CLICO POLICYHOLDERS HAVE BEEN ROBBED

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…by white-collar criminals

FINANCE BY DAVID WALKER ACCOUNTANT & DATABASE EXPERT

Today I start by express­ing my sincere gratitude to two active and vocal advocates for transparency and accountability. They are as dif­ferent as chalk and cheese but the results of their work have been nothing short of remark­able. In each case though, we the citizens of Trinidad and To­bago and our leaders have failed to grasp the opportunities that these two local advocates have presented for improvements in these two key areas.

I start with Mr. Gene Dzaidyk, who is an actuary based in Can­ada. His sterling work, and not a little determination, has resulted in the Canadian Institute of Ac­tuaries upholding his complaint against another Canadian actuary, Mr. Ngai who prepared the actuar­ial statements that the government used in dealing with CLICO and its policyholders.
The Institute appointed a Com­mittee which examined whether Mr. Ngai should have stated an opposition to the resolution plan on the basis of inappropriate treat­ment of specific categories of policyholders. As a result of that examination of Mr. Ngai’s work a decision was taken to file formal charges against him. It puts the failure of our Regulatory bodies like ICATT (Institute of Char­tered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago) into sharp perspective. We have had the largest financial collapse in our history and not a word from our Regulatory bodies in more than ten years.
The Canadian Institute fur­ther stated that by such conduct he, Mr Ngai:

  1. Failed to act with compe­tence and in a manner to fulfil the profession’s responsibility to the public and to uphold the reputation of the actuarial pro­fession, contrary to Rule 1 of the current Rules of Professional Conduct;
  2. Failed to perform profes­sional services with skill and care, contrary to Rule 1, Anno­tation 1-1, of the Rules of Pro­fessional Conduct;
  3. Engaged in professional conduct and committed an act that reflects adversely on the actuarial profession, contrary to Rule 1, Annotation 1-3, of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
    These are very serious state­ments that raise legal and account­ing questions over the Resolution Plan that adversely affected tens of thousands of innocent policyhold­ers who relied on the government and the actuary to defend their as­sets and provide reliable account­ing upon which to make critical decisions. Thanks to Mr. Dzai­dyk’s knowledgeable and dogged determination in pursuit of proper actuarial reporting, policyholders now know with certainty that they have been misled and had their as­set value unlawfully diminished.

The CLICO accounts and Resolution Plan are both built on sand

Then we have the statement by a judge in a case brought by the indefatigable Afra Raymond seek­ing receipt of information that had already been granted by the court but not provided by the Ministry of Finance as should have been expected. I wrote about it previ­ously thus – “We recently had the spectacle of a judge, in giving an order for the disclosure of infor­mation about the CLICO bail­out saying that there was prob­able overpayment and financial irregularities in the rescue. The judge in his written judgment called for an urgent inquiry. and release of the report of an earlier inquiry into the collapse. This is in relation to the unregulated ex­penditure of 25 billion dollars of public money and a further 100 or more billion dollars of CLI­CO and CL Financial assets”.
There can be no further doubt that the rescue in general and the resolution plan in particular were a massive fraud perpetrated on the nation, the policyholders and the shareholders. Thanks to Mr. Dzaidyk we know that the actu­arial statements upon which they relied are at best inaccurate and at worst fraudulent, The Cana­dian Institute found that Mr. Ngai should have “stated an opposition to the Resolution Plan on the basis of inappropriate treatment of spe­cific categories of policyholders”. In other words, the accounts and the resolution plan are both built on sand.
Add to that, the clear and direct words of the judge in the Afra Raymond case telling us that there was probable overpayment and financial irregularities in the res­cue. A judge would not utter such words casually and without pow­erful evidence having come across his bench. I live in hope that the Fraud Squad and other agencies are currently following up on his suggestions. What does it say about the Rule of Law and the fight against white collar crime in the country if we fail to follow up the sterling work done by many, but especially these two gentle­men and amplified by the learned judge.
But we come up against the same obstacle that appears to be­devil all attempts to target white-collar crime in the country. It ap­pears to many of us that even in the case of clear evidence as in the case of the Resolution Plan, the relevant authorities are either un­willing or unable to act. Relying on them to move against culpable persons has thus far been an exer­cise in futility.

White-collar criminals

We’re fortunate. There is a choice, a way forward that does not rely on the “authorities”. Is civil society willing to take the initiative in pursuit of these white-collar criminals who have robbed tens of thousands of policyholders and the country at large? Or are we still waiting for the authorities to act knowing that such an out­come is unlikely?
In this matter, the results of the work of Mr. Dzaidyk and Mr. Raymond are the opening needed in the pursuit of justice. These are just two highly public breaches of fiduciary responsibility by those placed in a position of trust over the rescue of CLICO and its bil­lions of dollars of assets, now documented for all to see.
There are other unlawful acts perpetrated in the name of this rescue, some of which I have pre­viously articulated. Do we want to pursue the white-collar criminals responsible for this? Or are we truly victims of learned helpless­ness? I’ve made many calls to pol­icyholders in the past. A few have responded but not nearly enough. The irony is that with just a small percentage of policyholders, the shared cost of defending their rights and their assets becomes minimal. They also lead the nation in taking on our parasitic white-collar criminals.
Mr. Raymond and Mr. Dzaidyk have led the way and created a tre­mendous opportunity to weaken the defences of the white-collar criminals. I say to them all, but especially to the CLICO policy­holders who have been robbed, let us take the fight to the criminals. They have the chance to recover some or all of what has been sto­len from them. Just as important­ly, they have the chance to lead the fight against white-collar crime. Contact me at d.walker@alcin­dorwalker.com to find out how.
The country needs you. We can defeat the white-collar criminals, who have had it too easy for far too long. Let us not miss this once in a lifetime opportunity.