CIFL case: AG Dept. informs Court of Monetary Board measures to revive crisis-hit finance companies

Monday, 27 January 2014 00:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Attorney General’s Department last week updated to Court of Appeal hearing a case on the troubled Central Investment and Finance Ltd., (CIFL) about new measures taken by the Monetary Board to revive crisis-hit finance companies. Deputy Solicitor General Janak de Silva submitted last Thursday (23) furnished the minutes of the Monetary Board to the Court of Appeal when the petition filed by the depositors of the Central Investment & Finance Ltd. (CIFL) complaining of alleged unlawful activities in breach of Finance Business Act was taken up. De Silva said the Monetary Board has decided to implement appropriate regulatory measures to encourage the cash-strapped financial institutions to revive and be restructured. The Court further extended the Interim Order issued on September 27 against the Central Investment & Finance Ltd staying the operation of the Monetary Board’s direction to convert its 60% deposit liabilities into Non-Voting Shares. Court has also stayed the operation of the Monetary Board’s another direction to pay 5% of the existing public deposit of Rs. 3.4 billion to Non-Voting Shares. The Court made these orders sequent to a Writ petition filed by the depositors of the CIFL complaining of alleged unlawful and activities in breach of Finance Business Act. The Depositors cited Monetary Board, Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, the Central Bank, Director of the Department of Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions, Chairman of CIFL Roscoe A. Maloney and its Directors. The minutes of the Secretary of the Monetary Board P. Samarasiri was submitted to Court and it states that the Board decided to implement the following three policy measures in respect of Licensed Finance Companies: a) Increase the minimum share capital requirement of Rs. 1,000 million with effect from 1 January 2018. b) Disclose the Licensed Finance Companies that increase share capital beyond Rs. 600 million before 1 January 2018 as companies that qualify for investments from the public sector funds such as Employees’ Provident Fund; and c) Introduce a revival scheme for the Licensed Finance Companies that are confronted with a significant shortfall of capital to meet the regulatory capital requirement as may be determined by the Department of Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions (D/SNBFI), subject to the Monetary Board, that has the following features: i. Convert deposit and debt liabilities up to one-third of the capital shortfall into shares; ii. Infuse fresh capital up to one-third of the capital shortfall by a new investor; iii. Grant of a loan by the Sri Lankan Depositor Insurance Scheme against the collaterals and other terms and conditions as may be approved by the Monetary Board to fill the balance capital shortfall, concurrently with the above capital enhancement measures. Deputy Solicitor General Janak de Silva informed Court that these proposals would be sent to the Central Bank and if approved, will be implemented. The Petitioners are seeking a Writ order from the Court compelling and/or directing the Monetary Board, Central Bank Governor, Finance Ministry Secretary, the Central Bank and the Director of Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions to take steps to have the CIFL to pay the depositors the deposited monies in CIFL, the capital and interest. Faisz Musthapha PC with Mangala Niyarapola instructed by Derrick Samarasekara Associates appeared for the Petitioners. Petitioners in their petition states the CIFL represented that it was established in 1966 and registered with and/or licensed by the Monetary Board. They state that it was revealed from the Notes of the Auditors of the Annual Report of the CIFL the presence of certain irregular dealings of the CIFL. They complain that commencing from February 2013, CIFL has started refusing to release the deposits and the relevant interest payments of those deposits which had become matured. They allege they had been deliberately and fraudulently deceived and cheated by the CIFL which faced with severe liquidity issues. They bemoan the true picture of unlawful activities, which were in clear breach of Finance Business Act, began to emerge as the depositors intervened by demanding their investments and laments that they found the CIFL severely experience liquidity problems due to unwise and reckless investments in the properties and mismanagements and irregularities. They state that they believe that the CIFL Chairman Roscoe Maloney, Directors J.G.S. Maloney and D.A. Hettiarachchi have already quit Sri Lanka despite repeated promises by the Director of the Department of Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions to impound their passports preventing the directors leaving the country. They state CIFL, which made a profit of Rs. 7.9 million as at 31 March 2012, was making a shocking loss of Rs. 330 million as at 31 March 2013 which was reflected online in the company network system and visible to the Account Manager working under the Central Bank who was directly responsible for monitoring the activities of CIFL. They charge the Central Bank failed to take prompt action to rectify the situation immediately, as a result of which the CIFL too collapsed within less than two years. They maintain it is the duty and responsibility of the Central Bank to penalise the CIFL and its Board of Directors for resorting to unlawful and illegal practices by eroding billions of investors’ money, instead of allowing them to continue to operate as Registered Finance Company. They allege the Monetary Board has failed to examine the maintenance of the CIFL’s capital, liquid assets, and classification of investment schemes, provisions for bad loans, etc.