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Thursday 22 February 2018
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‘I deserve $700M’

WHILE in his defence, lawyers acting on behalf of former CL Financial executive chairman Lawrence Duprey have argued he played no direct role in the day-to-day details of the CLF empire, Duprey once told regulators that he deserved in excess of $700 million in, “consultancy fees”, because of all the different things he had done at CLF.

The Colman Inquiry heard of $700 million being paid out of a Clico “current account” into Duprey’s Dalco Capital Management Limited. Duprey’s attorney, Andrew Mitchell QC, yesterday relied on a letter by an unidentified official, who was writing on behalf of Duprey to the Inspector of Financial Institutions, Carl Hiralal, in which a long list of all of the things Duprey had done at CLF was cited as justification for the $700 million in purported fees.

Hiralal had written Duprey on October 17, 2007, mere months after first taking up the job of Inspector at the Central Bank. In his letter, Hiralal queried a series of payments to Dalco as disclosed by the current account. (The account had been described as “opaque” the day before at the inquiry by Deputy Inspector of Financial Institutions Wendy Ho Sing.)

Someone – whose signature apparently could not be identified by Duprey or his lawyers – replied by way of a letter dated November 2, 2007.

“The consultancy services were provided to Clico and other CLF Limited subsidiaries,” it read, according to Mitchell. “The nature of the consultancy services include investment/advisory; assessing investment banking advice worldwide; negotiating the financing/acquisition of prime assets, including Royal Bank of Canada, shareholding in Royal Bank Trinidad and Tobago, shareholdings in Republic Bank Limited, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, National Commercial Bank, the acquisition and disposal of Belvedere; establishing and financing certain petro-chemical plants and another under-construction with an asset-value of $1.5 billion.”

The letter continued, “These are only a few of the assets in Clico’s portfolio in which I have acted together with others in consulting arrangements with others. Dalco’s services to Clico include, but are not limited to: brokerage services emanating from corporate restructuring; Dalco has raised significant investment funding with investment banks.”

But Hiralal was not satisfied that he saw any evidence of any legal basis for the fees.

“Because this was a related party transaction I would have expected to see an administrative service agreement outlining in great detail the nature of the services and cost. I needed to understand that they were done at market value,” Hiralal said.

Despite writing another letter to Duprey, and then getting another response from someone else at Clico almost a year later, Hiralal never had any indication of the legal basis for the payments. In fact, subsequent correspondence suggested a move was made to draw up a contract governing the payments only belatedly. But there has been no evidence of a contract itself, the witness said.

At one point during yesterday’s sitting at the Winsure Building, Port-of-Spain, counsel to the inquiry Peter Carter QC asked the witness to answer one of Mitchell’s question. Mitchell, however, snapped at Carter, saying “Sorry, I didn’t realise that you were a commissioner as well.”

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