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State’s bid for CLF liquidation on hold

Trinidad Express / The State’s application to have the High Court appoint joint provisional liquidators for CL Financial (CLF) has been postponed until tomorrow.

There were heated arguments at yesterday’s High Court sitting as the State’s attorney, Deborah Peake SC, argued that the application to appoint the liquidators was ready and proper.

The State’s case was temporarily blocked by an application to intervene according to Section 240 of the Companies Act by former attorney general, John Jeremie SC, who is representing the majority shareholders of CLF.

Peake argued that not only was Jeremie’s application not properly ready, it has no locus standi.

And, in an unusual twist, an attorney, Garvin Simonette, who said he represents a client whom he cannot disclose, spoke out against the State’s move.

Last Tuesday, the State filed an application to wind down CLF because it was unable to pay its over $15 billion debt.

In conjunction with that application, the State applied to have the High Court appoint Hugh Dickson and Marcus Wide of the international accounting firm Grant Thornton as Joint Provisional Liquidators (JPL).

The application was heard yesterday before Justice Kevin Ramcharan in the Third Civil Court.

Ramcharan said he was satisfied that Jeremie’s submissions as it relates to Section 240 of the Companies Act should be heard.

 

Sensitive matter

 

But shortly after the matter started at 1 p.m. and Jeremie’s application for intervention was made known, Ramcharan suspended the court for half hour for both parties to hold discussions.

When the court resumed, Peake requested a meeting with the judge in private to discuss a “sensitive matter”.

The court was against suspended and Peake together with Jeremie held discussions with the judge outside of the Chamber.

When Ramcharan returned, he said he considered the issue which was raised privately. He said without the benefit of the authority which Jeremie wishes to provide, he cannot make a proper determination.

With respect to the application to appoint provisional liquidators, Ramcharan said he looked at Section 240 of the act and he was satisfied the application to intervene can be determined before the application to appoint provisional liquidators.

This was met with immediate objection from Peake who said Jeremie’s application was not properly before the court.

She pointed out there was no issue with the State’s application to appoint the provisional liquidators.

Ramcharan said he is not going to concern himself with their (Jeremie) application until a determination is made on the point raised privately. He said in the interim Jeremie can do the needful in terms of getting his authorities in order.

Peake argued Jeremie will require a minimum of seven days to make such application. Jeremie tried to intervene but was shut down by Peake.

“Please, Mr Jeremie, I am addressing the court,” said Peake.

“On a point of order…” said Jeremie as Peake snapped at him, “This is not Parliament!”.

“This is certainly not Parliament but I didn’t expect this of you,” said Jeremie.

Peake continued to reiterate her argument that Jeremie’s application is not ready before the court and he has not given the requisite notice.

She said she is very “troubled” by this move because even if the matter is put off till tomorrow, Jeremie’s application will still not be in order.

She said they are dealing with a fundamental alteration of the status quo to the disadvantage of the creditors of which her client is only one.

She said pending the determination of the winding-up petition, the State needs to have an order where officers of the court are appointed to take control of the company’s assets to preserve them.

“My learned friend cannot make an application and derail the hearing of our application which is properly before you,” she added, noting there are two weeks before the law terms ends and they all have packed diaries.

Jeremie said the Section 240 of the Companies Act gives a remedy. He said it was a case of “himself to himself” as he noted the company’s representatives have no word in the move to “kill” the company.

Peake urged the judge to hear the application which is properly before him.

 

Secret client

 

Simonette then spoke out, raising objection to the appointment of liquidators.

Peake immediately asked who he represented and Simonette said he cannot disclose except to say a “creditor” and interested party.

Peake continued her objection saying Simonette cannot continue his arguments without declaring who he represents as it cannot be a “secret”.

“You can’t make an appearance in court and say I will disclose who my client is outside the court, highly irregular,” she said.

Ramcharan after hearing all sides said in fairness to all parties, said he will hear the application to appoint the liquidators tomorrow at 1 p.m.

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