01 October, 2007

NICA Latest

Board Calls Meeting of Concerned Shareholders. On Thursday 27 September 2007 the Board of Directors of the National Investment Company of Anguilla Ltd called a meeting of the concerned shareholders. It took place in the plush conference room of National Bank. Conrad Walton Fleming chaired the meeting. The members of the Board told us that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the contents of our letter to them of 14 September. It was a very strange meeting. I left it with a bad feeling.

For one, Calvert Carty confirmed to us that he had been meeting and discussing with a Trickydadian group about developing the Lockrums land. The group had come to Anguilla from Trinidad and made an impressive PowerPoint presentation to the Board. They were excited about the prospects for developing the land.

Now, we all know the history of plans to develop this land. We failed to do it twenty years ago when we had the money and the credit. Now, when we are bankrupt, and ready to die of old age, we are going to develop land? If that happens, I prophesy that no shareholder of NICA will see a dollar of the “profits” from such a project.

The only sensible next step is for the shareholders to resolve to wind up the company, appoint an independent accountant to be the voluntary liquidator, have the assets sold, the debts paid off, and the balance distributed to the shareholders. I will be happy with nothing less. On the poll on this website 86% of those who voted on the issue agree with that solution.

We were disappointed to learn that the Board has not made a complaint to the police about any of the contents of the Thomas Report. When they were elected, it was with specific instructions to have the police commence the necessary proceedings. Their excuse is that their lawyers told them to be careful. Yes, they have to be careful. But, the Thomas Report contains evidence that should have been put in the police hands. There is no risk for the Board in that.

We were disappointed to learn that they had failed to pay KPMG, the auditors appointed by the shareholders, to get the missing ten years of audits done. That, after three years! Their excuse is that it was too expensive. US$10,000.00 per year is not expensive, given the element of risk and the insurance premiums that KPMG must pay for taking on jobs like this. We knew the cost at the time. It is not a new cost. It is what the shareholders were always told. Now, the Directors say they want the shareholders to appoint new auditors at a reduced fee. What for? This is not a live, trading company where we have time to fiddle about.

The bank accounts of the company are overdrawn by some EC$300,000.00. Some of the overdraft has been paid off, but not all of it. We are paying the bank a huge amount of overdraft interest. I would not be surprised if it was about 20% a year. But, the company has assets it could sell to pay off all of its debts. It holds over one million EC dollars invested in shares in various companies. There is some $300,000.00 in inventory still in the “bookstore”. Clearly, the duty of the Board was to have sold the necessary assets to pay off the overdraft.

They should have done this in their first six months of appointment in 2004. They should have taken advice on what to do with the Thomas Report. They should have taken advice on the quickest and most profitable way to unload the land. And, they should, as instructed in the year 2004, come back to the shareholders with a plan to bring the misery of the company to an end.

The Board promised the meeting that they would call a general meeting of shareholders in a few weeks time, as requested by the Bob Rogers’ and Collins Richardson’s group of concerned shareholders. I hope they are not coming with proposals to keep the company on life support machines. The only proper recommendation that should be before the shareholders at that meeting should be a resolution to bring NICA’s pathetic existence to a merciful end. That’s my view.


  1. An overdraft is a form of borrowing. A rather expensive one. People who own shares of stock and need cash normally sell some of their shares to pay their debts. It is uneconomic to do otherwise, especially if one has been elected by a large group of people to manage funds belonging to all of them.

    But then I ask myself, "Uneconomic for whom?" Who gains from the interest on the overdraft? NBA. More specifically, NBA shareholders.

    Conrad W Fleming is a former Chairman of the Board of NBA, and it is said he is a major shareholder. Who does he represent, NBA or NICA, when he advocates that NiCA borrow money at high interest rates from NBA?

  2. Every day I read boring preaching about how we must give information to the police when we have information about criminal behaviour. I want to nominate the NICA Board for this year's coveted Anguilla Award for the Worst Example of Outstanding Moral Leadership, Good Governance and Innovative Achievement for their cowardly handling of the criminal evidence contained in the Thomas Report.

  3. I blame the shareholders of NICA if they elect the same or similar people to the Board on the October 22, meeting at the SToney Ground Primary School.

    I suugest they elect people with experience, qualifications and integrity. Vote wise and vote them out.

  4. Is it really true that the majority of the shareholders would like the company to be allowed to die? This is the first time that I am hearing this view expressed! Definitely taken off life support, but to die?! I have to belive that there are competent honest Anguillians who can run the affairs of their company - even if it takes 2 decades to find them. If there are not, then we might as well just allow Anguilla to die for NICA is a reflection of us and our society.

  5. All of our denials about Anguillians being criminals, all of our preaching about being such wonderful Christians, all of the boring lectures on how moral and ethical we are compared to all those awful foreigners -- all of these lies have been exposed by this scandal.

    No wonder we are so defensive and uncomfortable talking about the reasons for NICA's failure.


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