Former Clico Investment Bank (CIB) chairman Andre Monteil has denied influencing the company’s decision on a $78 million loan granted to his personal company, Stone Street Capital, shortly before it (CIB) collapsed almost a decade ago.
Monteil repeatedly denied any wrongdoing as he took the witness stand before Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams in the Port-of-Spain High Court as CIB’s case against him and his company to recoup the outstanding loan plus interest continued yesterday.
As he maintained that the controversial deal got CIB board approval, Monteil claimed that he recused himself from all decisions related to it.
He said: “If my personal interest superseded CIB’s I would disclose my own interest.”
As CIB’s lawyer Michael Green, QC, quizzed Monteil over the fact that documents related to the loan were only prepared 10 months after the money was dispensed to Stone Street, Monteil said he could not say why as he did not have operational control of the company as chairman.
He claimed that he received documentation but did not produce any in his testimony. Green also spent considerable time quizzing Monteil over his relationship with CIB’s former president and chief executive officer Richard Trotman. Trotman is also listed as a party to the claim as he and Monteil are accused of not acting in the company’s best interest by conspiring together to facilitate the loan.
While Monteil admitted that he signed Trotman’s employment contract, he alleged that the decision to hire him was made by former CL Financial (CLF) executive chairman Lawrence Duprey.
“As group chairman, Mr Duprey had the mandate to chose his executives,” Monteil said. He admitted that he had approached Trotman orally for the multi-million dollar credit facility as he suggested that a formal request was not necessary due to his long-standing relationship as a customer at the investment bank. Asked whether he was Duprey’s second-in-command at CLF, Monteil, who served as that company’s financial director, immediately said no. “I wish I was but I would not say so,” Monteil said.
Pressed further on his relationship with Duprey, Monteil admitted that shortly after the loan was granted and refinanced to Monteil’s other company First Capital (St Lucia) Limited, he cut ties with the group due to a disagreement with Duprey and other executives.
Monteil repeatedly refused to disclose the nature of the disagreement but stated that it was personal and did not relate to the companies’ operations.
Throughout his intense cross-examination, in which he had to be stopped several times by Quinlan-Williams as he challenged Green’s questions, Monteil said he felt there were no irregularities with the loan arrangement and refinancing plan. Monteil also challenged CIB’s alleged credit policy, which CIB’s liquidator the Deposit Insurance Corporation (DIC) is alleging was contravened by Monteil and Trotman in facilitating the loan.
He claimed that the undated and unsigned policy was never implemented by the company and was merely drafted when it was considering applying for a commercial banking licence. While under cross-examination, Monteil admitted that the loan was used to partially finance Stone Street’s purchase of CLF’s 43 percent stake in the Home Mortgage Bank (HMB).
Questioned over whether he had concluded negotiations to purchase the substantial shareholding before seeking the loan, Monteil said no. DIC/CIB is also being represented by Nadine Ratiram, while Jason Mootoo and Christopher Sieuchan are representing Monteil and Stone Street.
Trotman is representing himself. The trial continues this morning.