CLICO Collapse: Eastern Caribbean Can Sue Trinidad and Tobago for US$60 million

Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister Gaston Browne poses for photo in this undated handout picture distributed to Reuters on January 25, 2022. Government of Antigua and Barbuda/Handout via REUTERS
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A&B Prime Minister Gaston Browne says countries in the Eastern Caribbean affected by the 2009 collapse of the Trinidad-based Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) could file a US$60 lawsuit against the government in Port of Spain to recover funds owed to policyholders.

He told radio listeners that Trinidad and Tobago had made a commitment to pay US$100 million to the countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), but has not kept such a promise.

“Possibly, we may eventually have to sue the government of Trinidad and Tobago because, as you know, they had agreed to provide a settlement of US$100 million. They paid about US$40 million and the balance of US$60 million remains unpaid,’ said Browne on his weekly radio program last weekend.

“We have written to the government of Trinidad and Tobago. They have not even treated us with the type of respect that is typical among countries and colleagues,” Prime Minister Browne said, adding “so, we will be writing to them again.

Browne, who has taken over the chairmanship of the sub-committee on insurance in the ECCU, said significant progress has been made in recovering some of the investments in CLICO made by residents of the Eastern Caribbean.

The ECCU groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

According to Browne, the Barbados government has agreed to pay US$37 million for the real estate assets of CLICO International in Barbados, with millions coming also from the government Basseterre for the Nevis Island Administration Fund;

“I believe that there are US$8.2 million for us to collect from the St Lucia pledged assets; and we have agreed to the sale of real estate assets in the various territories; and we are pursuing litigation against Duprey and company”.

A group of British American and CLICO policyholders in the Eastern Caribbean filed a lawsuit at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) against the Trinidad and Tobago government in October 2021.

In their application, the appellants argue that the Trinidad and Tobago government’s rescue plan to protect the funds of policyholders of the locally based conglomerate discriminated against policyholders on the basis of nationality.

They are also contending that the government contravened certain articles of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, where CARICOM countries agree to not allow for discrimination on the grounds of nationality, among others.

The appellants are also arguing that the collapse of the Trinidad-based conglomerate had a catastrophic and widespread effect on the Eastern Caribbean.

CMC/

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