Welcome to BIPA
Chris Sinckler told us it was all going to be resolved in June 2012, then it would be December 2012 and now Mr. Stuart tells us it will be March 2013. BIPA takes the GOB to task in The Weeekend Nation of 4th January to mark the 4th Anniversary of this debacle, which started with us all being told by the same GOB to ‘Stay Calm’ and that our money was safe. And do we need to remind Mr Stuart of his repeated public promise that we will all get our ‘principal’ back?
Chosen as one of Barbados’ “Personalities of 2012”, watch June Fowler, Chairperson of the Barbados Investors & Policyholders Alliance (BIPA) in an excellent interview with Carol Roberts on Starcom Network’s “VOB Country” broadcast on 92.9FM Voice of Barbados during Christmas 2012.
Has the Barbados Government all but totally dismissed as a “minor inconvenience” tens of thousands of CLICO and BAICO policyholders who trusted Government agencies and regulatory bodies to do their job properly?
Are they once again admitting that had they acted as they should, they could have prevented the disastrous collapse of these two companies and the devastating consequences throughout the region?
Having already heard Chris Sinckler declare they must “humble themselves and admit they dropped the ball”, we now have Minister of Trade and Commerce, Senator Haynesley Benn confirming the widespread lack of enforcement of the requirement of statutory corporations to submit their annual audited financial statements on time, noting that some are up to seven years overdue!
He too bows his head and accepts some blame. Is he even aware it was that same negligence and dereliction of duty which allowed CLICO to continue without publishing accounts while its affairs deteriorated towards complete collapse?
Adding further insult to injury, we hear Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, stating that “elderly care is not cheap … and Barbadians must prepare for their own circumstances when they get old”.
Excuse me Minister, but would you be including in that statement the 35,000 people who, in the last ten years, responsibly did exactly what you suggest, only for your Government and its agencies to fail so miserably to protect their financial “preparation for their own circumstances”, that they are now left destitute and having to rely on the State for help?
With the officially confirmed record of apathy, lethargy and disinterest in corporate governance, legislation, regulation and enforcement, how much lower can the level of confidence of potential savers and investors sink?
You can debate a Prevention of Corruption Act as much as you like, but while you continue to sit back and allow companies to act with a level of disregard for the law and a lack of supervision and enforcement akin to that of “ZR” drivers, you prove to us all that a Prevention of Corruption Act, or any other legislation or regulation designed to protect the people, is nothing more than pointless “long talk”.
– Michael Goodman
Barbados Investors and Policyholders Alliance Inc commends the recent reported sourcing of US$100 million by Eastern Caribbean Currency Union governments from Trinidad and Tobago to cushion the devastating loss which would otherwise have been borne by BAICO and CLICO policyholders who trusted their governments to regulate the insurance industry and enforce the appropriate laws.
The EC governments have demonstrated responsibility, leadership and empathy for those who elected them, qualities sadly lacking in many government officials. Their actions acknowledge that tens of thousands of people are victims of greed, recklessness and irresponsibility of businessmen and their board members, and negligence of key government officials.
Presumably the EC governments, committed to properly representing their constituents, convinced the government of Trinidad of the domino effect of their failure to properly regulate CL Financial Ltd., the ultimate parent company of BAICO and CLICO businesses throughout the region.
Given the size of CL Financial Ltd. and the resources available to it, confidence would have been placed in its ability to support and meet all financial commitments to its various subsidiaries. It could have been argued that failure to properly regulate C L Financial would contribute to the collapse of the company and its subsidiaries which, no longer able to allay concerns about their balance sheets and statutory funds, would inevitably meet the same fate.
BIPA notes that the Trinidad government has consequently allocated a large sum to compensate policyholders, and cooperated with a number of EC governments, clearly showing its recognition of the failure of its regulatory authorities to act effectively, despite being aware for some time of the company’s risky financial practices.
The Government of Barbados has already acknowledged its own failures in this regard and must act, as have Trinidad and the EC governments, to fully compensate the victims of such failures.
If, after four years of procrastination, the Government of Barbados does not act without further delay, the financial industry in Barbados will suffer a major crisis of investor confidence, bringing it to its knees. BIPA expects the key figures in the Government of Barbados to understand the weightiness of their responsibilities in this fiasco, and act now. If they lack the necessary skill and expertise, they might consider consulting the EC governments on how to achieve success in this matter.
– June Fowler,
PORT OF SPAIN — A criminal investigation against former CLICO executives and several corporate entities aligned to the collapsed insurance giant has begun.
The investigation is being conducted by a special team of police officers, comprising members of the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau and the Fraud Squad.
The criminal probe, which began late last week, was announced last night in a press release issued by Director of Public Prosecutions, Roger Gaspard.
The Express learned that the probe has been undertaken based on the content of a voluminous report submitted by the Central Bank to the Office of the DPP.
It was disclosed on October 17 by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan in the senate that the Central Bank had spent $305.5 million in legal fees between October 2007 and July 2012, for investigations relating to the collapse of CL Financial Ltd group of companies, which involved an international team of forensic experts to track multi-million dollar transactions in several jurisdictions.
The Central Bank probe took place even as the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration appointed a Commission of Enquiry, chaired by Sir Anthony Colman, to probe the same issue in November 2010.
Colman has expressed his frustration during the enquiry on several occasions relating to the nonappearance of key witnesses who the enquiry feels can help unravel the complex financial dealings which led to the collapse of the insurance giant and the subsequent close to $20 billion bailout by the State.
The terms of reference of the Commission of Enquiry include looking into the causes, reasons, and circumstances leading to the deterioration of the financial conditions at CLICO, CLICO Investment Bank Ltd, British American Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd and Caribbean Money Market Brokers and the Hindu Credit Union which threatened the interest of depositors, investors, policyholders, creditors and shareholders and the circumstances, factors, causes and reasons leading to the January 2009 intervention by the Government for the rehabilitation of the companies.
The Central Bank, using its regulatory powers under Section 44 D of the Central Bank Act, hired Canadian forensic investigator Robert Lindquist to assist in unravelling the web of transactions between directors of CL Financial group of companies which led to the collapse of the multibillion dollar company.
Gaspard also issued a stern warning to media houses last night to cease publication of “anything which might jeopardise, hinder or otherwise prejudice the investigation or any possible proceedings which might result from it”.
He warned that such infractions “may amount to a contempt of court”.
Commenting on the DPP’s warning last night, a senior attorney said it may be impossible for the media to comply with such a warning since the commission of enquiry was being held in public where the details of the conduct of former CL Financial directors were being revealed.
The commission of enquiry resumes on December 3, nine days before the January 2009 Memorandum of Agreement signed by the Government and CLICO executives expires. (Express)
Officials representing thousands of policyholders and investors owed millions of dollars by CLICO and British American Insurance has welcomed the Financial Services Commission proposed increased surveillance of insurance companies.
The Barbados Investors and Policyholders’ Alliance has a message for the FSC, however: enforce it or forget it. That was BIPA’s reaction to a Barbados TODAY article, which detailed a series of legislative changes and new guidelines as part of the FSC’s increased regulation of life and general insurance companies.
In a consultation paper on the matter, the regulator’s Director of Insurance and Pensions, Randy Graham, said the proposals were intended to “improve the prudential regulation of the insurance industry in Barbados”, a statement BIPA was happy to hear.
But the organisation cautioned that without the adequate supervision and enforcement of regulations and legislation, such measures would be “pointless”.
“There are already substantial provisions within the Companies Act and the Insurance Act which, had they been enforced in a timely manner by the regulatory bodies and others in office, would have minimised, if not completely prevented the CLICO and BAICO debacle,” BIPA Chairperson, June Fowler said.
She said the result was that 35,000 policyholders now “find themselves abandoned by a system that has completely failed them”.
Fowler also expected additional breaches of existing legislation and regulations to “come to light as a result of the legal proceedings currently being initiated by BIPA”.
“You can issue guidelines and regulate and legislate until the end of time, but unless the authorities commit to strict supervision and enforcement without favour, tightening the supervisory framework just won’t make any difference,” she said.
BIPA officials think the new FSC proposals “arise out of a complete lack of confidence in the insurance sector as a direct result of the failure of the CLICO Judicial Manager to come up with a timely and satisfactory solution to the fiasco, and the continuing empty reassurances and vague promises made by the current government”.
Today, the organisation also commended the Trinidad and Tobago Central Bank “for recognising the likely criminality involved in the operations and subsequent collapse of the CL Financial Ltd group of companies and seeing fit to substantiate its suspicions by mobilising an international team of forensic experts and producing a ‘voluminous’ report”.
“BIPA finds itself wondering why similar action has never been taken here in Barbados by our own Central Bank, whether independently, or as a result of the recommendation of the Financial Services Commission, the Government entity responsible for oversight of the Insurance industry as well as of Deloitte, the Judicial Manager of CLICO,” BIPA said in statement on the matter.
“The alliance would further be interested to know the extent of cooperation afforded by Barbados to the international team of forensic experts appointed in Trinidad in their efforts to track multi-million dollar transactions ‘in several jurisdictions’.
BIPA finds it inexplicable that the alliance itself, which is merely an advocate for the 35,000 policyholders in Barbados devastated by this debacle, seems to be the only body in Barbados pursuing such criminal proceedings,” it added. (SC)
by Shawn Cumberbatch
Barbados’ insurance regulators are moving to ensure they do not have to deal with another CLICO-type debacle anytime soon.
It means operating a life or general insurance company will become tougher and more expensive.
As authorities struggle to resolve the CLICO crisis and that of its sister company British American Insurance, Barbados TODAY investigations revealed that the Financial Services Commission is proposing the introduction of seven new guidelines to govern the conduct of insurers.
But added to these new provisions related to assets and valuation, corporate governance, international controls and risk management, market conduct, related party transactions and statutory reporting, life and general insurance companies doing business here will likely be faced with millions of dollars more in capital requirements to reduce the chance of clients being hurt when these organisations go belly up.
This would be done through amendments to the Insurance and Exempt Insurance Acts, a move which the FSC is now pushing. Sources close to the FSC said local insurance industry representatives had up to yesterday to say how they felt about the changes, and reports suggested several of them “were not happy”.
Some of the key changes being pushed by the FSC included increasing the minimum share capital requirements from the current $3 million to $5 million for a life or general insurance company, from $5 million to $7 million for a comprehensive company and from $1 million to $3 million for companies limited to writing motor vehicle or industrial life insurance business.
Additionally, the FSC is pushing for these same companies to be mandated to deposit millions of dollars more with it as the supervisory agency.
As it currently stands, life insurance companies are required to deposit $1 million and general insurers between $250,000 and $1 million based on their written net premiums, but the regulatory agency is recommending that this be increased to $5 million for life insurers and $2 million for general insurers.
And in what is believed to be a direct response to the CLICO collapse here, the FSC is also proposing an additional section to the Insurance Act stipulating that on the winding up of an insurance company, all of is monies and securities would be held as statutory funds and used by the liquidator to play local policies “in the first instance”.
The planned changes do not end there, however, as the regulator wants to introduce a new statutory fund to cover “other classes” of general insurance now not required to establish them.
While long term insurance policyholder liabilities and motor vehicle insurance policyholder liabilities are now required to have a statutory fund, the FSC wants this extended to include accident and sickness, liability,, marine, aviation and transport insurance.Barbados TODAY was provided with a consultation paper authored by the FSC’s Director of Insurance and Pensions Randy Graham, who gave the rationale for the proposed guidelines and legislative changes.
He said the overall aim was to “improve the prudential regulation of the insurance industry in Barbados”. The official disclosed that his agency had completed a “full review” of Barbados’ current regulatory framework for the non bank sector, and had “concluded that its prudential supervisory framework for insurance companies, which incorporates essential elements of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, is sound”.
But Graham also said the FSC believed the framework “needs enhancement and modernisation so as to meet the unique needs of participants in, and risks inherent to, Barbados’ insurance market”.
“More specifically, some elements of macro prudential monitoring that are material in this modern and dynamic insurance market are not present in the current legislation, and the Commission found it necessary to upgrade so as it be in concurrence with the market trends,” he said.
“In consideration of measures to strengthen the sectors’ ability to withstand future shocks, the Commission has identified the monitoring of reinsurance adequacy and effectiveness, the monitoring of internal corporate governance and related party transactions in non-public entities, and the standardisation of assets not publicly traded as areas that presented particular challenges for the stakeholders and the regulation of the industry.
“Given the limited regulatory references to these issues in the Insurance Act CAP.310, the commission has developed a series of guidelines to ensure that the regulatory tools needed to monitor these issues are present in our Barbados’ regulatory framework. The guidelines are being issued under the authority of Section 53 of the Financial Services Commission Act 2010- 21, and the guidelines take the force of law. All licensed, where applicable, will be expected to follow the guidelines,” he stated.
The Director of Insurance and Pensions said the FSC was “seeking to create an environment where business decisions can be derived at in a rational, orderly and transparent manner, and one which avoids any unnecessary disturbance to markets and the interests of industry stakeholders”. firstname.lastname@example.org