It’s not too late for President to honour promise to Globe Trust depositors

The Kaieteur News of Thursday April 9, 2009 reported the Office of the President (OP) as stating that I and other (sic) directors of Globe Trust blocked payout of up to $100,000 each to 5,404 depositors of the financial institution. Apparently OP produced a “critique” to support its allegation that it was certain that up to “$235M would have been recovered from the realizable assets of Globe Trust”. I will deal briefly with the allegation, indicate my role in the Globe Trust imbroglio and offer a possible reason for President Jagdeo’s breach of promise.

The allegation though malicious and misleading is not surprising. It is also a mathematical impossibility. Even a junior clerk in the Office of the President could have told the manufacturer of the allegation that 5,404 times $100,000 is $540.4M. Where would the balance of $305.4 M ($540.4 M – $$235 M) have come from? But even the figure of $235 M is what the Liquidator very recently said was actually collected to date.

The architects of the allegation obviously intended to divert attention from my assertion – which I now repeat – that Jagdeo on August 3, 2001 had promised that approximately 2,000 small depositors defined by him as those with savings “in the vicinity of about $10,000 each” would get back their money. Instead of responding to my factual assertion, they create this absurd allegation and spurious diversion.

Second, I never was a director of Globe Trust or had a direct role in the Globe Trust case. Ram & McRae was retained by the institution to advise on and prepare a restructuring plan to address the difficulties being faced by the company. I was not a party to the action No 429/P in which Bank of Guyana (BoG) was the petitioner and Globe Trust was the respondent. I appeared as a witness to explain what came to be referred to as the Ram & McRae plan. I should add that the plan itself had identified as a first step – partly for administrative reasons – the repayment of all the under $10,000 accounts. In other words, there was no opposition to Jagdeo’s pledge which by coincidence was consistent with the Ram & McRae plan.

The basis of the intervention by Globe Trust in the legal action was that the BoG had acted outside of the law (the Financial Institutions Act) when on September 20, 2001 it took possession of Globe Trust “for the purpose of liquidation”. Then Chief Justice Carl Singh in his prompt, written judgment found that the decision by the BoG “manifested its misconception of its powers”; that the determination by the BoG that Globe Trust could not be restored to financial soundness was made “in a manner that was unfair to Globe Trust”; and that Globe Trust had been “unfairly treated”. The Chief Justice however did not hesitate to criticise the directors of Globe Trust for their “failure to act decisively in the face of lax, loose and grossly incompetent management.”

I should add that as set out in the written submission of Attorney-at-Law Stephen Fraser for Globe Trust, its intervention and proposed restructuring plan was not an objection to the Bank of Guyana assuming possession. In fact the point was made by Globe Trust director Professor Clive Thomas and emphasised by Mr. Fraser that the foundation of the Ram & McRae plan was that it would operate under the protection of the Financial Institutions Act. The premature and high-handed manner in which the Bank of Guyana acted leads inescapably to the conclusion that it did not want Globe Trust to survive.

Regarding the President’s failure to honour his commitment, it is possible that he forgot, which is human. But my belief is that when he made his promise on August 3, 2001 he hoped to neutralise popular opposition to an unlawful and politics-driven decision that had already been made but not yet announced – to liquidate Globe Trust. The liquidation announcement came seven weeks later. In the end he got both his wishes, i.e. the liquidation of Globe Trust and preempting any opposition. No need then to bother about any commitment.

A final thought. For years I have tried unsuccessfully to get the President not to make unlawful and unconstitutional spending out of the Lotto funds and more recently out of the Privatisation proceeds. Now OP would have the public believe that I prevented the President from meeting an obligation he made in good faith. Like their math, this just does not add up.

But it is still not too late. The President’s guarantee on Clico involving failures by his people is the equivalent of a blank cheque for billions and billions. He knows the exact and comparatively modest exposure on Globe Trust. It is far easier and clearly less costly for him to honour that commitment. I am not in his way.

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