I learnt to my consternation that at the Clico Head Office last Friday, the Bank of Guyana (BoG) purported to dispose of assets of the beleaguered insurance company. Consternation because by that time the BoG and its attorneys should have been notified or ought to have known that it was unlawful for it to act as liquidator, and that under section 449 (b) of the Companies Act 1991, it was guilty of an offence.
Consternation too because among the high officials participating in the activities last Friday were Ms Marcia Nadir-Sharma, attorney-at-law and Deputy CEO of NICIL, which should have no hand in matters relating to the liquidation of Clico assets, or any other Clico matters, period. Instead Ms Nadir-Sharma acted as the co-ordinator of the proceedings. Commissioner of Insurance (ag), Ms Tracey Gibson, also an attorney-at-law, and Mr Maurice Solomon, Chartered Accountant, were also among those present.
My understanding is that the government might be interested in the huge building in Camp Street to house government ministries, and NICIL which has earned quite an unfavourable reputation over the past few years, would be in a conflict of interest. This building has a market value of $1,503M. I understand, however, that the highest bid was $450M.
Ms Gibson has been unavailable to perform her statutory duty under section 150 of the Insurance Act to allow members of the public to inspect documents filed under that act, but presents herself at a liquidation process in which her office has no legal, statutory or moral role. In fact, had her office acted as the law required it to in relation to Clico, we would not now be in this eleven billion dollar mess. It must be said, however, that Ms Gibson was not Commissioner while policyholders’ money was being shipped unlawfully out of Guyana and took no active part in Friday’s proceedings. If she was there at all, then it ought to have been to see that no hanky-panky took place. Now, let us see what she is going to do about the improprieties she witnessed.
For his part, Mr Maurice Solomon is a long-standing director of the board of NIS which is responsible for the ill-advised and poorly supervised multi-billion dollar investment in Clico, the timing, probabilities and consequences of full recovery of which are in considerable doubt. My information is that at the proceedings, Mr Solomon was variously described as the “BoG representative” and as “the Liquidator.” Interestingly, Mr Solomon’s firm is also the auditor of the New Building Society to which Clico sold its shares and which is now to be brought under the FIA!
At the apex of this, is the Bank of Guyana and its Governor Mr Lawrence Williams, prepared to ignore section 449, other provisions of the law and an order of the court.
Today, days after the issue of the amended order by the Chief Justice (ag) revoking the appointment of the Bank of Guyana as liquidator, the Deputy Governor of the Bank is quoted as making official pronouncements regarding Clico’s liquidation, not only compounding the section 449 offence but acting in contempt of the order by the court. But this is Guyana – where the law is routinely, casually and flagrantly breached, where professionals abandon the rule of law in favour of silence and profits, where the press is missing at crucial times, and where all of this is sanctioned or permitted by those responsible for upholding and enforcing the law. It is time to say that Guyana ‘really gone,’ that there is no hope for our bleeding country.