The CLICO Gloves are off: Barbados Policyholders and Investors Alliance (BIPA) goes to court over Transparency of Judicial Mgmt. Hearings

The Barbados Policyholders and Investors Alliance (BIPA) is now in possession of the reports and affidavits filed with the High Court by the judicial managers for BAICO and CLICO, after petitioning the Court for these documents. BIPA Chairman, Mrs. June Fowler, said the documents were critical for the alliance to be able to fashion its response to the proposals being advanced for resolving the situation of the two insolvent insurance companies. She gave the assurance that BIPA respects the confidentiality of the reports and will treat them in the appropriate manner.

{FILE IMAGE - JUNE FOWLER IN BLACK BLOUSE} Mrs. Fowler commented that “One of my biggest concerns in all of this is that at no time has a single policyholder been invited to be a part of the consultative process for arriving at a solution to the debacle.”

Mrs. Fowler said that she was generally impressed with the direction outlined in the BAICO judicial manager’s report. She also said that BIPA would support, in principle, the options being floated which would see both BAICO and CLICO’s traditional business transferred to another regional insurance company, however, she stated that the alliance could not support any move that would disenfranchise the over 800 Executive Flexible Premium Annuity policyholders since these policies are insurance products, covered by the same regulatory framework as the “traditional” insurance products, and with equal claims to the same statutory fund required under the Insurance Act.

In addition Fowler referred to the repeated assurances given by political leaders in Barbados, especially immediately after the collapse of CL Financial in Trinidad & Tobago. The late Prime Minister stated that he “was fully satisfied that CLICO’s Barbadian operations were sound, prudently managed and well regulated and that Barbadian depositors, investors and holders of insurance policies can therefore be considered safe in the context of our financial sector”. It was because of these words of assurance and the trust Barbadians had in their Prime Minister that thousands of policyholders remained calm, did not panic and continued to pay premiums and did not withdraw their money from CLICO or BAICO.

BIPA has also realised that within recent months the government is no longer singing the “get your principal back” tune but have changed their tune to “looking at options”. We hope that this is not their way of trying to absolve themselves of being culpable for the lack of proper oversight and enforcement of the powers at its disposal including those of its regulatory body the then Office of the Supervisor of Insurance.

While BIPA welcomed the meetings held by the CLICO judicial manager to update policyholders on recent developments, it is concerned that the policyholders themselves, per se, are not being included in the discussions taking place to find a solution to the problems of BAICO and CLICO. Mrs. Fowler commented that “One of my biggest concerns in all of this is that at no time has a single policyholder been invited to be a part of the consultative process for arriving at a solution to the debacle.” It is for this reason, she says, that BIPA has also filed court applications to become parties to the continuing judicial management hearings which will be heard on 26th January 2012.

Mrs. Fowler also disclosed that they have had consultations with Dr. Grenville Phillips, a renowned insolvency practitioner with 40 years experience in the field. She also revealed that Mr. Peter Douglas, a Chartered Accountant, has joined the team representing BIPA. Mr. Douglas is a former Partner with an international firm of accountants and has extensive insolvency experience both in Barbados and Canada. These professionals have added value and strength to the BIPA team.

She said that BIPA is still firm in its resolve that policyholders and investors should get all of their money back. “We will not go away until the job is done.”

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