Director of Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) and General Insurance Company, William Ramalho, yesterday filed a writ for a hearing in court as it relates to several specific requests minus the suspension request of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Geeta Singh-Knight.
Representing Ramalho are attorneys at law Roysdale Forde, Keith Massiah S. C. and Stephen G. Lewis.
The director is seeking to have the Court issue directions under the Insurance Act, “to the Judicial Manager as to whether Geeta Singh-Knight is authorized to act as and to perform the duties of Chief Executive Officer of Clico Life and General Insurance Company (S.A.) Limited whilst the said Company is under Judicial Management.”
The Director had previously, moved to the Court by way of a motion, to have Chief Executive Officer of the Company, Geeta Singh-Knight, suspended.
A suspension letter was delivered to Mrs. Singh-Knight on March 23, last, signed by Ramalho.
“I am instructed to notify you, and I hereby do, that your position as Chief Executive Officer of the company, CLICO Life and General Insurance Co. S. A. Ltd is suspended with immediate effect until the determination of the Judicial Management matter and related proceedings.”
According to the motion filed in the High Court against Mrs. Singh-Knight, upon receipt of the suspension letter, Mrs. Singh–Knight was instructed by the Judicial Manager, Maria van Beek, not to obey the letter of suspension and to remain in her office even though, according to the motion, van Beek has no authority to intervene and interfere in matters touching and concerning the corporate structure of the Company.
The writ filed by Ramalho is seeking to have Chief Justice Ian Chang amend his previous order and insert that the Judicial Manager must obtain the leave of the Court prior to the dismissal and termination of staff and or employees of the company.
Ramalho also wants the order amended to have the Judicial Manager obtain the leave of the Court prior to the termination of any existing Contract in existence as at February 25, 2009, and must obtain the leave of the Court prior to the closing of offices of CLICO Life and General Insurance Company Limited, and or restructuring or otherwise altering or changing the operation of CLICO Life and General Insurance Company (S. A.) Limited.
According to the motion filed earlier, the suspension letter sent to Singh-Knight was in an effort to avoid the Company being in contempt of Justice Chang’s Court order.
The motion filed also charges that the conduct of Singh-Knight as it relates to firing of staff and closure of offices among others, are likely to cause dislocation, erosion of the company’s customer base, and liabilities adverse to the Company’s interest.
The motion stated that when the letter was delivered, Mrs. van Beek told Elbert Carrington who delivered the letter, in the presence of Sharon Melville and Geeta Singh-Knight, among others, “Mr. Duprey stole the people’s money.”
Ramalho pointed out in that motion that since the appointment of the Judicial Manager, Mrs. Singh-Knight has closed business offices of CLICO Guyana; instructed or caused the removal of a signature of a Director of the company; and terminated the employment of 43 staff members.
Further, the motion stated that in view of the acts mentioned and coupled with things done by Mrs. Singh-Knight without the authority and consent of the Board of Directors, the Board/Shareholders have decided to suspend Mrs. Singh–Knight as Chief Executive Officer, with immediate effect.
Based on legal advice, Ramalho is contending that, according to the Insurance Act, the Judicial Manager has to file with the Court a report indicating certain options to the Court, which in the opinion of the Judicial Manager are most advantageous to the policyholders and in view of the manner of conduct on the part of the Judicial Manager that any such report is likely to be actuated by bias and or malice, and presented under a cloud of suspicion.
“Statements by the Judicial Manager indicate that she lacks the requisite impartiality to function effectively…I am advised by my attorneys-at-law and verily believe that the gross dereliction of duty and abandonment of responsibility coupled with the aforesaid statement by the said Judicial Manager’s evidence that it is undesirable that the said order should remain in force.”
It was also pointed out in the acts and or conduct undertaken by Singh-Knight, “in face of the appointment of the Judicial Manager are all nullities and of no legal effect…. The acts on the part of Singh-Knight constitute a violation amounting to contempt of the Court Order for Judicial Management,” and the writ now filed is seeking to have Chang reflect this position.
Ramalho is also charging that the actions of Mrs. van Beek constitute gross dereliction of duties and an abdication of responsibility.
It was pointed out that the effect of placing the entire Company under Judicial Management has caused the Company substantial financial loss as in those areas of business in that the existing policies cannot be renewed or continued
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