Saturday, April 20, 2024

Mr Parris goes to court


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Suddenly, out of the numbing silence that has enfolded, like a lead coffin, the carcass of what was once the Clico empire, comes a clear voice crying out for justice.
With no definitive statement yet from the Barbados Government on how it will deal with the financial black hole that is Clico Holdings (Barbados) Ltd, at least someone has had the guts to let his voice be heard, to demand that the wrongs meted out to him be righted.
Is this person one of the thousands of ordinary middle-class people who salted away large chunks of their savings into Clico for up to eight per cent return on investment?
Or could it be one of those trusting souls who continue to have their salaries garnished every month in favour of a Clico annuity?
No. The cry for financial compensation, in the form of lawsuits filed recently, has come from Clico Holdings’ former president Leroy Parris.
According to the last WEEKEND Nation, Mr Parris claims that CLICO Holdings did not pay him the full $10 million gratuity payment as promised by May 15, 2008. He has to date received about $3.6 million from the company on that score. He says he is also owed annual bonus payments and fees for management services. He is also suing CLICO?International Life Insurance (CIL), claiming over $3.5 million for three personal policies which have recently matured.
In his “restructuring plan” submitted to Cabinet, now retired Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, William Layne, noted that Clico International Life’s liability for its Executive Flexible Premium Annuities (EFPA) was just over $1/2 billion. After assets were used to shore up the policy side of the company and the other subsidiaries sold off to help close the gap, Mr Layne put the remaining deficit in EFPA funding at $211 million.
To finance it, the Barbados Government would have to issue $44 million in bonds up front, “and the remainder, $167 million to be paid over a ten-year period beginning in the year 2015”, the Oversight Committee recommended. (See my article of December 5, 2010, SUNDAY?SUN.)
That is the extent of the financial hole left in CIL, for which Mr Parris was ultimately responsible as executive chairman of Clico Holdings.
It may be of interest to recall that Mr Parris, representing Clico Holdings, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Government of Barbados in May 2009 which committed it to “make no payments of dividends to its shareholders and to ensure that the regulated subsidiaries will not make payments to directors, management or other senior officials in the form of bonus payments and ex gratia payments during the period of this MOU”.
Since the MOU also states that “the proceeds of sale of the regulated subsidiaries shall be used to satisfy any outstanding claims of the policyholders of the insurance companies”, it seems only fair that these hurting annuity and policyholders get whatever is available first, and that, should he be successful in his suit, that Mr Parris’ settlement cheque reflects the same ratio of cents to the dollar as afforded those who put their money into Clico International Life.
And that it be the very, very last one written.


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