By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A prominent CLICO (Bahamas) policyholder yesterday said he was “losing hope in the system” due to the Government’s continued failure to bring resolution to the near seven-year saga.
Bishop Simeon Hall told Tribune Business that he felt as if the plight of the insolvent insurer’s policyholders and creditors had been “put on the back burner”, as the Government grappled with crises such as Baha Mar and the Hurricane Joaquin damage.
Expressing disappointment that the Christie administration had yet to deliver on its promised resolution, Bishop Hall said the saga was going ‘from worse to worser” after the liquidator warned that he may have to cancel all CLICO (Bahamas) health insurance policies come New Year’s Eve.
“I’m very disappointed that we have not brought any resolution to this ongoing matter,” Bishop Hall told this newspaper. “It’s as simple as that.
“The people are still hanging on, and other financial crises seem to be pushing CLICO on to the backburner.”
Bishop Hall said he was “very hopeful” that CLICO (Bahamas) policyholders might finally see their life savings and long-term investments following meetings with the Prime Minister and other officials in summer 2015, when Mr Christie promised he was “drafting something”.
The proposal being offered by the Government then was to pay all CLICO (Bahamas) former employees their due severance pay, and to effect the transfer of its remaining insurance policy portfolio to either a new underwriter or special purpose vehicle (SPV) that would be established to hold them.
All annuity holders with investments worth $10,000 or less would receive a cash pay-out in full, while those owed more than that would receive the first $10,000 in cash, then be paid the remainder via government promissory notes and bonds.
However, a week after discussing the proposed resolution with CLICO (Bahamas) policyholders and their attorneys, the Baha Mar dispute broke via the project’s Chapter 11 filing.
“Christmas is coming. We’re praying the Bahamas, like other Caribbean nations, will bring resolution to it,” Bishop Hall told Tribune Business.
“I’m praying they’ll do something. It just needs resolution.
“I know the Government is challenged with money, but I’m just prayerful some resolution will take place.
“I call on the Government to borrow the money and give backing to the liquidator so we can bring resolution to it. I can’t move forward unless some resolution is made.”
While welcoming the fact that CLICO (Bahamas) liquidator, Craig A. ‘Tony’ Gomez, had recovered nearly $31 million from liquidating the insolvent insurer’s main asset, Bishop Hall said this was ‘not sufficient” to satisfy all creditors.
“I’m losing hope in the system that some resolution will take place, because it’s been too long,” he told Tribune Business.
Paul Moss, an attorney representing several former CLICO (Bahamas) policyholders and creditors, said he did not expect to hear from the Government on its potential resolution before year’s end.
He said that based on the Prime Minister’s comments, it had seemed as if the Government was going to move before Christmas 2015 - something that now seemed unlikely.
“I don’t expect to hear from them because this item is not given the priority it should have,” Mr Moss told Tribune Business.
“It’s low on the totem pole. When one looks at the things they are prioritising, it seems Baha Mar is more of a priority even over the hurricane damage in other islands. I know of persons who have died and not got the benefit of a resolution.”