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New twist to CL Financial saga

New twist to CL Financial saga

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The saga of the financial challenges facing CL Financial Group, the parent company of CLICO and British American Insurance, has taken a new twist, with some Vincentian private sector employees approaching trade unions here, to withdraw some EC$27 million in pension funds from these institutions and have them localized.{{more}}

This was disclosed by Noel Jackson, President of the National Labour Congress.

Jackson told SEARCHLIGHT that Vincentians have pension funds invested in CLICO amounting to EC$27 million. He stated that while he is aware of the total funds invested in CLICO, he did not know how much money British American Insurance is holding.

Jackson told SEARCHLIGHT the workers are of the view that there are institutions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that can more safely invest their money.

The veteran trade unionist said the bulk of the pensions are with CLICO Holdings Barbados Limited.

“What is being invested here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?” he questioned.

At present members of the National Workers Movement (NWM) have the largest pool of pension funds invested in CLICO. The NWM has negotiated pension schemes on behalf of St.Vincent Electricity Services Ltd. (VINLEC), St.Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority, the St.Vincent Brewery Limited, East Caribbean Metals, and ECGC totalling approximately EC$19 million, Jackson, who is also the General Secretary of the NWM, said.

“There is some merit in the demand to localise the funds. Not only based on CLICO’s reluctance or CLICO’s refusal to comply with the laws of some of the countries, but in terms of investment in St.Vincent. We are seeing little or nothing and we as a poor country, can’t have this large amount of money being held in trust by companies that continue to break the laws of the country and we are benefitting nothing from it,” said Jackson.

When asked what laws have CLICO broken in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Jackson identified non-compliance with the statutory fund deposit. He said this had also taken place in other countries where CLICO operates.

Jackson admitted that even though the NWM is seriously thinking about what can be done to localise the pension funds, after close examination of the current circumstances, it has been concluded that the time is not right for them to start talking about pulling out money.

“This can basically precipitate the total collapse and we wouldn’t want that. We would want things to peter out, persons to get their feet solid on the ground, and then we make decisions as to how we would localise the pension funds of the workers,” Jackson explained.

Meanwhile, Terrence Thornhill, President of CLICO Holdings (Barbados) Ltd, told SEARCHLIGHT, that CLICO’s Chief Executive Officer, Leroy Parris, had had some meetings in St.Vincent and the Grenadines recently, regarding pension plans, and those meetings were generally positive.

He said CLICO’s management was not aware of any action to have the pension plans with the organization withdrawn.

Thornhill added that the company has been in regular contact with persons holding pension plans and has been giving them whatever information they request.

With regard to Jackson’s claim that CLICO has broken the laws in some countries while carrying out its operations, Thornhill said that statement is quite an unfortunate one. He acknowledged that there are a few countries where CLICO has not met the strict regulations; however, the company is working closely with the regulators to have this rectified.

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