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Monday 24 September 2018
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AG warns: $10 million fine, ten years jail for insurance fraud

CLINT CHAN TACK

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday said people who commit fraud on policyholders will be subject to a fine of $10 million and ten years imprisonment on summary conviction. Al-Rawi made this disclosure in his contribution to debate on a motion to approve a joint select committee report on the Insurance Bill 2016. Saying that he has been involved in the work on this legislation since he was an opposition senator over the last five years, Al-Rawi observed this is the, “most severe penalty to be found in the bill.”

He explained that unlike the 2015 legislation under the former People’s Partnership government, this bill, “has the benefit of an entire package.” Al-Rawi said this includes 11 draft regulations which will come into effect once the bill becomes law. The AG said the bill allows protection for whistle blowers with certain immunities and there is parity for that inside the securities legislation.

Recalling the CL Financial fiasco, Al-Rawi said, “This country cannot allow policyholders to be exposed in the way they were previously.” Against this background, Al-Rawi said the bill treats with issues such as judicial management, suspension and winding up. He also said priority will be given to policyholders who are victims of winding ups as opposed to uninsured creditors.

Al-Rawi said the bill was also important with respect to the global management of risk in relation to money laundering and financing of terrorism. He said the Financial Action Task Force, Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and Global Forum have made observations about this country’s financial sector, including the insurance industry. Al-Rawi said the bill was important to advance the positive view which other jurisdictions have of TT. Al-Rawi said this was not a case of TT, “seconding our sovereignty.” He said the reality is TT’s economy is affected by how it is viewed by players in other markets.

Caroni Central MP Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie expressed the Opposition’s support for the bill. However Tewarie observed the Government chose to selectively honour the concept of continuity in governance. He said Government often sought consultation with the Opposition on legislation like the FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) for TT to meet its international obligations.

Tewarie said this was not done with legislation which increased ministerial power. He also questioned whether the inspectorate proposed in the legislation would be able to properly supervise insurance companies. Tewarie said such an entity must not be a place, “for bureaucrats to mark time.”

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