At the same time, he acknowledged that more than ten thousand CLICO investors will not get back 100 percent of the principal amounts of money they invested in financial instruments offered by the collapsed insurance giant. Instead, they will receive about 65 percent of their original investments back over a period of 20 years.
Watson was speaking on Monday at a post-budget breakfast seminar in Port of Spain hosted by financial services company CMMB.
The Trinidad Express reported that Watson said, “If I had my own way, they would be in jail. It was an elaborate Ponzi scheme that was inflicted on an unsuspecting population.”
Watson said that he had heard complaints from people who said the government should not have encouraged this kind of activity, but he said a “lot of empathy” had to be shown to people affected by CLICO and CL Financial.
“It is going to cost us money. It has already cost you $7 billion and the debt is $12 billion over 20 years,” he said of the measures to bring relief to CLICO investors.
An initial $1.3 billion has already been allocated for investors who will receive $75,000 each, and another $1.8 billion will be put in place for the amortization payments over 20 years as stated in the 2010/11 national budget, he said.