As sole Clico commissioner Sir Anthony Colman endeavours to maintain the timeline he set himself for the conclusion of his commission, he announced yesterday that he was scheduling four evidential hearings in 2012. The commission, which ended its November hearing yesterday, will sit again on January 4-13, February 23-28, March 12-16 and April 23-May 4. The commission has subpoenaed 22 witnesses to give evidence: Hayden Charles, Mervyn Assam, Claudius Dacon, Shama Deonarine, Eugene Dzidyk, Anthony Fifi, Ian Garcia, Karen Gardier, Peter Johnson, Geoffery Leid, Claude Musaib-Ali, Ozzie Nurse, Anna Rampersad, Karen Nunez-Tesheira, Ram Ramesh, Dr Bhoe Tewaire, Victor Mouttet, Clinton Ramberransingh, Roger Duprey, Richard Trotman, Lennox Archer and Faris al-Rawi.
Former group finance head Andre Monteil is also scheduled to give evidence. Colman said the commission was having difficulty locating Claudius Dacon and Ian Garcia. The cross-examination of former corporate secretary Gita Sakal will continue the January hearing. Former CL Financial group finance head Michael Carballo will also conclude his cross-examination by attorneys for Geoffery Leid in that session. Colman expects to begin writing his report on Clico's collapse in September 2012. The Hindu Credit Union aspect of the Commission has been delayed and Colman could not give a timeline on when he expects to complete the HCU report. He said it will be up to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago whether they make the entire report available. He admitted that it's been difficult to run parallel Clico and HCU hearings.
"The amount of evidence and documents relating to the Clico collapse is so vast that the commission simply does not have the legal or administrative resources to run both investigations simultaneously," Colman said. "The demands on those resources imposed by the size and complexity of the Clico investigation are such that there is simply no available surplus legal expertise or administrative manpower to get on with the Hindu Credit Union." Clico investigations, he said, would be concluded before HCU. "Well, it might be said, why could not this likely delay have been foreseen in the first place when the Commission was first set up?" he said.
"The answer is quite simple...that kind of political decision would not normally be taken after investigation of the magnitude of the likely documentation or the likely number of witnesses that might be called or of the number of counsel likely to be involved. "The primary political imperative is to get an inquiry started and to get the appointment of a commissioner organised." Speaking on Thursday, Colman said it had taken some time because there were 18 parties to the commission of enquiry and each party was entitled to be represented by counsel and attorneys. Thus far, he pointed out, the commission had received 800,000 volumes of documents. "Is this all out of control?...Not a bit of it," he said. "But in order to keep control over the material, the inquiry cannot be run at a gallop."