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Saturday 16 December 2017
News

Duprey’s man in Europe

The name Arnaud de Trabuc, is not generally known in Trinidad and Tobago, although he visited Trinidad in 2003 when CL World Brands acquired the Hine Brands of Cognac and was featured in Newsday in an interview with CL Financial chairman, Lawrence Duprey.

However, eight years later his name is in the news again following evidence given to the Commission of Inquiry on Monday into the collapse of the CL Financial/Clico conglomerate when his image is not that of a successful businessman but that of a “convicted fraudster”, a “loose character” who profited from many deals he made with Duprey, as Duprey pushed to expand the CL Financial drinks empire and achieve a place among the ten spirits companies in the world.

The evidence was given by Michael Carballo, former chief financial officer of CL Financial who painted a picture of a man, a Swiss national, convicted and jailed for mail fraud — information known by Duprey and all top management at CL Financial — but who was regarded as their “right-hand” man in Europe because he had contacts and could open doors.

Warnings were ignored Carballo said and in the end CL Financial ended up suffering heavy losses as the company was totally “outsmarted” by de Trabuc.

According to Carballo, de Trabuc played a key role in CL Financial’s decision to buy the loss making Chateau Online, a wine merchant, which had not made a profit in its seven years of existence. He was also a factor in the disastrous purchase of the Belvedere Vodka firm with no shareholders’ agreement. De Trabuc had recommended the lawyer who did the deal following which CL Financial realised it had been outsmarted by de Trabuc and had to sell Belvedere to avoid further losses.

Following the purchase of Chateau Online, de Trabuc was made chief executive of CL World Brands and CL Financial found it had absolutely no control or say in the management of that company. De Trabuc was also involved in Angostura Swiss and earned significant sums, according to Carballo’s evidence.

When de Trabuc was dismissed it was found he was utilising funds for his personal purposes, buying properties for himself, Carballo told the Commission of Inquiry being conducted by Sir Anthony Colman.

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