Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne says he is dissatisfied with the response from his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart regarding the non-payment of millions of US dollars linked to the collapse of Trinidad-based insurance companies CLICO and British American Insurance Company (BAICO) in 2009.
Browne, who is chairman of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) sub-committee on insurance, had said last month that a decision had been made to take the Keith Rowley administration before the Port of Spain-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The ECCU groups the islands of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St.t Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Prime Minister Browne said he had written to Prime Minister Rowley after an ECCU meeting had agreed unanimously to take the Trinidad and Tobago government to court after three attempts to get them to pay the outstanding funds.
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Speaking on his radio program over the last weekend, Browne told listeners “His (Rowley’s)response is one that I think he has co-mingled a number of issues, even some gratuitous payments that were made by the late (prime minister) Patrick Manning he has tried to include in a settlement.
“So, I am about to respond to him to let him know that he is mistaken and that the issues he has raised in his letter they certainly have no bearing to the case that we are pursuing,” Browne said, without disclosing the full content of Rowley’s letter.
The ECCU said Trinidad and Tobago had made a commitment to pay US$100 million to the member countries but only US$40 million was disbursed following the collapse of C. L. Financial, the owners of CLICO and British American Insurance Company (BAICO).
In October last year, a group of British American and CLICO policyholders in the Eastern Caribbean filed a lawsuit at the CCJ against the Trinidad and Tobago government and Prime Minister Browne said the ECCU decision to follow suit had been in the works for several years.
“Let me make it abundantly clear too that …the policy holders will come together collectively, and they have a collective suit against the government of Trinidad and Tobago. That is separate from what we are pursuing here.
“The case I am pursuing is a settlement that was agreed to even before I became prime minister of a US$100 million. The government of Trinidad and Tobago paid US$40 million for it, and US$60 million is still outstanding.
Gaston Browne said it is on that basis the ECCU believes it has a case if Port of Spain refuses to settle.
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