Government criticized over CLICO/BAICO debacle

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: The Barbados government has been criticized for what is being viewed as its mishandling of the local operations of embattled insurers CLICO and British American Life Insurance Company (BAICO).

A pressure group formed by CLICO and BAICO investors and policy holders issued a statement last Thursday – following the announcement by Deloitte Consulting that it had been appointed judicial manager for CLICO International Life Insurance Ltd. – lamenting that government failed several good governance principles in its handling of the matter.

“The group regrets that it has taken this length of time to make serious efforts to assess the true financial status of CLICO, and to make restitution to the persons who invested in this company in good faith,” said the statement.

“The group also wonders why, despite the national importance of this most serious matter, no senior member of government felt it necessary to make the announcement regarding the official appointment of the Judicial Manager, leaving the policyholders, yet again, to discover the latest development in their fate in the general media.”

The group, which has also been known in the media as the Barbados Investors and Policyholders Alliance, has been meeting over the last three months with CLICO and BAICO executives and government officials to bring some sort of resolution to the rationalization of the operations of the two insurers so that disenfranchised policyholders and investors can get monies owed to them. 

In the statement, the group said it was “heartened” by the appointment of the judicial management team for CLICO since it was a step for which they had been agitating for months.

However, they suggested that unless the pace at which the issue was resolved could be speeded up, Barbados’ social and economic stability could be threatened.

“The massive number of retirees who are adversely affected by this debacle threatens the viability of the concept of a just society, as well as Barbados’ reputation as a safe destination for overseas investment.

“This is why better management of the situation and the safeguarding and securing of the company’s assets for equitable distribution to all is paramount, and is the very least social and economic justice required of this situation. The very enormity and implications of the potential economic impact should have galvanized a more aggressive, swift and responsible approach to this issue.”

The CLICO/BAICO investors and policy holders urged that a “truly forensic audit” of CLICO Insurance and all of its activities be carried out during the judicial process and for the powers of the judicial manager and the court to be “fully exercised” in a manner that would restore confidence in the company.

“All of us who entrusted our hard-earned money to CLICO in the Executive Flexible Premium Annuities offered by the company, in order to provide for our futures, look forward to getting back all that is owed to us, sooner rather than later.

“In the interest of transparency and accountability policyholders expect to receive a full report as to how the company was managed. Nothing but full disclosure is anticipated,” concluded the statement. 

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