Shortly after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for his cash-strapped companies, former CL Financial chairman Lawrence Duprey was negotiating to sell one of the Group's most lucrative assets, Methanol Holdings (MHTL). In his cross-examination of MHTL chief executive Rampersad Motilal, attorney for Proman Holdings, Christopher Hamel-Smith produced an email string from February 3, 2009 which showed the chairman of Clico Energy Limited (CEL), Duprey's German partners in MHTL, accepting CL Financial's offer subject to terms and conditions. Word of the proposal by Duprey to sell CL Financial's 56 per cent stake in MHTL to the methanol company's 44 per cent foreign shareholders was disclosed yesterday as attorneys continued to cross-examine Motilal on the sale of Clico Energy Ltd.
Hamel-Smith also produced an email which showed that corporate secretary Gita Sakal forwarded a 2007 valuation of MHTL for CEL to pursue. Motilal told the on-going Clico Commission of Enquiry yesterday that while he was copied on that letter, he simply drew that letter to the attention of the CLF board for their consideration. Hamel-Smith questioned whether CEL's offer was being considered given the risks posed by the world environment for MHTL. Motilal maintained that it was an option but said it would be incorrect to say there was need for him personally to consider anything. "I would deny having any interest or being involved in any activity for consideration of the sale," Motilal told the COE.
And despite Motilal's consistent defense that he remained unaware of the sale of Clico Energy Limited, he admitted that he did not interrogate the sale at the board level as he should have. In answer to an earlier question by attorney Fyard Hosein SC, Motilal said while he was not "alarmed" by the sale, he did not raise the issue with the CLF board. He told the Commission he was waiting for a more competent person to raise the issue as he did not have all the facts at his disposal. When it was pointed out that he was a member of the sub-committee of the board with a mandate to be responsible for the disposal of assets, Motilal said he interpreted his role differently.
In his resignation letter, which he produced for the COE, Motilal wrote: "The sub-committee was mindful at all times to work within the framework established by the MOU. This task became more challenging after an injunction was filed against CL Financial restraining the company, its officers, etc from dealing, negotiating, selling etc assets of Clico as it appears that the injunction was granted on the basis of another transaction by CL Financial ie.the sale of its shareholding and the shareholding of Clico in Clico Energy Ltd without the prior notification or sanction of the Minister of Finance of the Central Bank and which to date has not also been brought to the attention of the CLF Board for discussion approval pr ratification as may be applicable."
Of Duprey, Motilal later told the COE that: "I am sure he spent many sleepless nights trying to cajole subordinates and subsidiaries to report." Motilal will continue his cross examination today. Former corporate secretary Gita Sakal is also expected to take the witness stand today. Meanwhile, Commission Colman has ruled that the means of remuneration for CL Financial officials should be disclosed to the Commission but not the actual quantification of them.