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posted 24 Sep 2011, 21:46 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 25 Sep 2011, 08:23 by Dave Smith ]

The revelations by witnesses at the Commission of Enquiry into CL Financial and the Hindu Credit Union are not only utterly disgusting, frightening and highly shameful, but more instructive to Trinbagonians, they expose the corporate gangs, gang leaders and members operating in an environment not dissimilar to those in the Trinbago criminal underworld.


The Corporate Moguls, like the crime lords, with impunity and utter disregard for ordinary people and the law, indecently and callously robbed citizens of their life savings, destroyed their lives and denied them and their dependents the fruits of their hard won labour of many years.


The shocking activities and practices revealed at the enquiry expose greed and avarice as the God and Master of these captains of finance capital. Their strategy was to entice working people with high interest rates knowing that there is very low demand for withdrawals by depositors whose only investments are savings and pensions.


Indeed, they operated exactly like the infamous financial bandits Madoff and Stanford. They believed they would safely continue their bandit practices forever and ever and live like fat cats off the sweat and labour of working people, but as the old people say “one hundred days for thief but one day for police”.


Allegations by witnesses include shocking disclosures of poor people getting a run- around for their money and dying in the process; of people being denied their money for life-saving medical treatment and dying in the process; of widows, who at great sacrifice, subsisted from the monthly interest to ensure children and grandchildren were left with adult-hood start up capital, put in a state of limbo as neither interest nor capital was available from these finance houses. In one case a witness claimed she was tricked into a false deal with the resultant loss of her family land.


Pension plans of many working people in the private and public sector were also affected by losses. So too were working people’s savings in credit unions. The National Insurance Board, a state entity, which is the largest pension plan in Trinbago lost close to one billion dollars. National Gas Company, one of the largest local companies and a state enterprise, also lost close to a billion dollars. These two companies owned by the people of Trinbago, together lost close to 2 billion dollars.


This is money belonging to all Trinbagonians, to pay benefits to citizens and improve our country; to provide new infrastructure; water for all; social and family services for needy citizens; quality education; to invest in job creation; increase the minimum wage in the service sector and working people’s and public workers’ salaries, wages and benefits; to provide housing and other needed services. These and other monies disappeared into thin air.


Now we are hearing that our corporate finance gang leaders and gang members plundered the society of close to 10 billion dollars. Some say it could be three times that. Again as the old people would say, “People money was jumping up in ah mystery steelband” and like “Smokey Joe, play a big time Mas”.


The CL Financial Group’s Director Michael Carballo paints a picture of obscene salaries and bonuses that bear no relation to remuneration in this country. There seems to be no justification why these unbelievable and shocking payments were made to these corporate gang leaders. From his evidence, he alleges that money was moved out of subsidiary companies, particularly CLICO (which was cash rich) in the form of not only unimaginable salaries and bonuses, but in highly exorbitant consultancy fees and investments to several named firms owned by the corporate gangsters, at the very same time they overlorded the CL Financial Group.


So the question is, in addition to these unbelievable salaries, bonuses, executive discounts and consultancy fees and investments were these corporate gang leaders setting up their own companies, some in foreign countries, through these obscene payments at the expense of their own depositors? 


Were these corporate gang leaders stealing their customers’ money through these exorbitant salaries, bonuses, investments and consultancy fees? Mr. Carballo is a very brave man indeed and needs to be highly commended. Already the legal mercenary hounds are snapping at his feet and using intimidatory tactics. They are out to destroy him. He is exposing a secret world of corporate extreme greed, financial manipulations and extreme abuse of people’s funds. Is he getting police protection?


Will Trinbagonians allow Mr. Carballo to be crucified by the corporate gang leaders and gang banksters through their high priced attorneys? We have seen many cases where money is used to subvert justice. Some question his motives, but to the people of Trinbago his motives should not be an issue. The most important matter here is that he is disclosing how the largest conglomerate in the country operated and how its leaders treated the confidence its customers and depositors placed in this privately owned Mega Corporation.


If Mr. Carballo’s allegations are true, this gross abuse of its customers by CL Financial is a betrayal of the vision and mission of the late founder of CLICO, Mr. Cyril Duprey, who sought to bring working people into the financial market through insurance products and savings as the Friendly Societies had been unable to keep up with the newly emerging internal self government economy of Eric Williams.


Mr. Cyril Duprey and his business partner Mr. Monsanto brought into the financial and insurance market, the financial collective power of the working people and their ability to compete with the foreign financial houses. His company’s legacy has been stained by the greed and avarice of those he trusted.


In another article we shall look at the interlocking connection of the politicians in this financial scandal, the warnings given by two politicians and why nothing was done and why the financial regulators including the Finance Ministry failed to protect depositors?