PM Douglas blames local and regional managers for BAICO collapse

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly (photo by Erasmus Williams)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MARCH 19TH 2011 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has called on the management of the British American Insurance Company (BAICO) to accept the blame for the collapse of the insurance company that has resulted in many citizens losing millions of dollars in investments.

“There have been a lot of song and dance as to who should be blamed in St. Kitts and Nevis and in the Caribbean with regards to BAICO. I think the blame must fall squarely on the shoulders of those who manage the company, those who were the direct managers of the company locally and also those who managed it regionally it must also fall squarely on the shoulders of those who were directors,” Dr. Douglas told Parliament on Thursday.

Dr. Douglas said that the management, including both the local and regional directors “must not be let off the hook.”

“We have a duty to protect persons from that kind of scandalous abuse of people’s funds that we have seen in recent times,” noting that when governments of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) attempted to put measures in place to deal with the banking and insurance companies they were some insurance companies that lobbied some of the government’s not to follow suit.

“So when the whole thing collapsed, when we had the experienced of BAICO and CLICO the governments came together and said we have to put this in place,” he said, adding “insurance companies lobbied governments and legislation came in late, but nevertheless we have to make sure that what has happened in the past does not happen again.”

Dr. Douglas said that the fault lies with those who managed the company locally and regionally, noting that there even some local persons who went to Trinidad and Tobago to accept directorships when they knew the company was “almost bankrupt.”

He said many citizens put their life savings in BAICO at the behest of the local manager.

“When the sugar workers got their lump sum he approached them and told them that their monies were safe,” Dr. Douglas said, noting that he had been approached by people who in some cases had put as much as half a million dollars into BAICO.

“I have people who are in Trinidad and Barbados receiving medical attention and can’t get their money to pay for the different services…and now the management of BAICO is saying it is not their responsibility..

“I am not saying you stole their money…but you took people money to invest in BAICO (and) blame must be accepted,” a visibly angry Dr. Douglas told legislators.

“I am saying the responsibility falls in different areas, Maybe it is the government’s fault they should have put the regulatory legislation in place early, and I am saying …despite the delay in having it done somebody must be responsible and the people who are out there suffering…who have lost all of their life savings and can’t collect. “This is not something we must sweep under the carpets, people want their monies,” he said, noting that these people were asked to take their money out of the banks and now they ‘are getting nothing.

“And you are now going to say it is Trinidad fault, what nonsense is that and you can’t even go and sue anybody…because the assets have already gone,” he reportedly told legislators, according to the CMC report.

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