“Tell Me Who to Kill?”

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 26, 2008

FinancialIt’s the kind of story that would get a cat vex or make a donkey want to commit murder. Imagine a young, imaginative entrepreneur, someone who does not possess a “gimme-gimme” mentality, comes into town and tells the world that he will build an empire that would make anything Sat Maharaj ever dreamed of doing look like a doll’s house. He starts a credit union and offers interest rates unlike anything the nation has ever heard; at least, not since the days of International Trust when my mother got burned because of her greed. People began to invest in this credit union and before you could say Pan-Dey it was the hottest thing in town.

Then one quiet morning as the warmth of the sun began to swallow up the overnight dew trouble hit the camp. A credit union member who deposited 75,000 of the best T&T dollars strolled into one of the credit union’s offices to redeem his shares only to get a check that bounced so hard it ended up on top of Cerro del Aripo. Other members tried to redeem their shares but their checks bounced even higher. They almost touched the sky. It is only then it dawned on them that this young entrepreneur was not Robin Hood nor Mother Teresa who worked her heart out in the Calcutta ghettoes.

As things deteriorated the Director of Co-operatives intervened to save these depositors from their greed. They could not believe the young entrepreneur had taken their hard earned cash and used it for purposes for which they were not intended. Like all believers who put faith before reason they could not understand how their financial guru could deceive them so. But, we must give him credit. He deceived his followers so thoroughly that when the Commissioner of Co-operatives went to deliver the bad news about the state their union’s financial affairs they almost nailed him to the cross-sorry, to the Order of Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Commissioner may have been mad or brazen but he had the temerity to venture into the believers’ territory to tell them that their credit union had $390,131,614 in assets while its liabilities were $876,537,695; that is, a net shortfall of $486.5 million. Another report showed that the young entrepreneur received three loans totaling $1,800,000 between 2006 and 2008. Instead of streaming out of the compound in which they had gathered and look for the young entrepreneur who had squandered their assets they jumped on the Commissioner. An old man shouted in frenzied agony, “O God, Tell Me, Who to Kill.”

His cry reminded of Frank, the major protagonist in Naipaul’s short story “Tell Me Who To Kill” in which Dayo, his younger brother, squandered the money Frank had saved up for Dayo’s education and then married a white woman. On Dayo’s wedding day Frank laments: “They take my money, they spoil my life, they separate us. But you can’t kill them. O God, show me the enemy. Once you find out who the enemy is, you can kill him.” If only the believers could find the enemy.

Kofi Doo Little, a big time lawyer, and Richard Mahabir, the head of Credit Union Limited that was formed to represent the aggrieved members, jumped on the Commissioner. Mahabir said he was “behaving like a colonial imperialist.” Doo Little demanded that government pay off the depositors.

There is a way in which reason departs when people’s money is concerned and dey ‘fraid to call a crapaud a crapaud. The Commissioner was not responsible for the malfeasance that took place in their union nor was he responsible for the union’s lousy bookkeeping. There was no fixed asset register except for the property holdings and no comprehensive list of assets which anyone could verify. Somebody say they run the union wos’ than a roti shop.

One would have thought that the depositors would have chastised the young entrepreneur for squandering their money but that was too easy. Although he drained the union for everything it had the depositors are yet to put the blame where it belongs. They are intent on demanding that government shell out a half a billion dollars to appease the greed of those who set out to make a killing but were killed instead by their knight in shinning armour.

As the depositors and their allies seek to make the taxpayers pay for their greed I would like to remind the government that my mother, God Bless Her Soul, paid for her greed the hard way. She never received a cent from International Trust nor did it ever occur to her that government had an obligation to save her from her folly.

The government cannot continue to act one way towards one group of citizens and another way towards another group because some of us listened to our hearts rather than our heads when we voted for them.

Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me. Fool me three times; who should I blame?

One day we may just listen to our heads rather than our hearts.

13 thoughts on ““Tell Me Who to Kill?””

  1. I can assume that Selwyn is also very much against the U.S government bail-out of Wall street in the US.
    Is he going to disagree with Barak Obama on this one?
    From the mood of this article I can only assume that Selwyn is deriving a lot of pleasure from the failure of this credit union in T&T.
    Selwyn is so transparent, as he enjoys this failure!

  2. to T.Man: Whether Dr. Cudjoe get pleasure or not from this failure, you can’t deny much of what he is saying. The people like a mob, turned their anger on the person who was there to help.

    I disagree with Dr. Cudjoe’s reference to depositors as being greedy. What is basis for that statement? How are they different to someone who put their money in a bank or other investments?

    The government has some responsibility – the courts have decided so. But the government acted too late through the director of Co-ops. They should have investigated the numerous allegations years ago. The commission will have to liquidate the assets and pay off the debtors/members…they may get a few cents on the dollar but that is the government’s responsibility now. Just because the government did not live up to its responsibilities in Dr. Cudjoe’s mother’s case, does not make it fair that don’t follow through now.

    I don’t know where he got that quote about who to kill either. Not saying it is fabricated but I did not read that anywhere nor see it on the televised news reports.

  3. I believe that the government held off its investigation of this credit union because “how it go look” to investigate an “Indian” credit union.
    Sometimes the PNM is dammed if it acts and dammed if it does nothing.

  4. This was a well written peice,love the satire,but it is unfortunate that one would look at the article and suggest that Dr.Cudjoe,got pleasure out of the failure of the said credit union,no where in this article,did he imlpy that,people do not like to face reality.People invested in an institution that they trust it,and it fail them,that is the reality,their resources were mismanaged and the end result was a failed institution and their members investments went through a shredder.

  5. I will tell you who to kill!

    Kill the system of government that allows for such a despicable act such as the one that “encouraged” then robbed those who invested their money into the Hindu Credit Union.

    After all. The exploiters in the credit union were only following their leaders in government and opposition. The ones that created the environment for such acts to occur by promoting crime, gambling, prostitution, and big Business above the needs of the nations social interest. This is what we should focus on.

    The outdated politics of division that has resurfaced and is being espoused today by the “old heads” of all those parties fighting for the remaining spoils of the land, while corrupting/poisoning the youth, must be denounced by the people before it does the nation in.

    What we have to understand is that T&T has become a very good student of her teachers, America and Britain. As small as we are, we have become just as corrupt!
    This corruption has been promoted by those in power, current and previous. Whom, i assume will bail the HCU out just like the Americans will bail out their wall street plunderers.

    We have in T&T today a system that is rapidly becoming more and more unjust, immoral and exploitative. One where the “average” citizen does not know his own constitution or laws, because they are “hidden” away from them by the government and those in parliament. The keepers of the gate as it were. Why? to keep the people ignorant with regards to the level of corruption and exploitation in the land, something that most of us speculate about but cannot accurately denounce without the legal poof to back it up.

    A few days ago the President requested that the government teach the constitution in schools. We have yet to hear one minister or opposition member supporting this plea by the president. The reason is quite obvious, as stated above. The old man has been around long enough to know that his silence=complacency.

    The billions given away to foreign gas companies by the government should be viewed as the real problem in T&T and given the exposure it deserves.

    Trinbagonians should know better than to mock their brothers and sisters who were taken for a ride by the local “small” business swindlers who were only mimicking their “leaders” and “leaders” “masters” who operate the banks like the now bankrupted Lehman Brother’s (Where T&T government has the nations money “invested!) . because we all know that $486.5 million TT, invested then “lost” in a credit union fraud is small change compared to the “USD” billions stolen or should i say given away to foreign gas companies every year in T&T.

    We the poor people feel it, “all of us” by not getting the much needed Health care in the form of new hospitals etc, and those who own their small businesses have felt it as well with their lost.

    Money, oppression, exploitation knows no color. It does not discriminate! When BP and the government sign’s a one sided “deal” or “MOA” to sells off the nations hydrocarbons, we all feel it even though we don’t understand where the pain is coming from, or the true amount involved, we feel it none the less! We will get the repercussions by increases such as in vat, food hikes, gas hikes,(Now $1.00TT More), All this while no new social service infrastructure have been built since the 1980’s!

    Poor people cannot even afford to buy doubles on the street now!
    Doubles has risen to $4.00! A revolution is clearly eminent!

    Lets examine the liquid gas “DEAL” for example, take a look at the break down of “steaks” in the Trains that T&T’s “governments” have used to “sell out” our natural gas since the 1990’s to present.

    Under the guise of a company called ATLANTIC LNG. which is supposed to be a “National” umbrella company, observe the breakdown below and let me know if this looks like a “fair” DEAL, which benefits the nation. Remember that the only “true” National company represented here with the other sub groups/companies under this “umbrella” “thats filled with so many holes” is (NGC T&T), all others, thought they have the name Trinidad included in their company name, are not at all local companies.

    Please note: An LNG train is the term used to describe the liquification and purification “facilities” in an liquefied natural gas plant.

    Train 1

    BP Trinidad LNG B.V. (34%)
    British Gas Trinidad LNG (26%)
    Repsol LNG Port Spain B.V. (20%)
    NGC Trinidad and Tobago (10%)!!!!!!!!!!!!(ONLY 10% FOR T&T)
    Suez LNG Finance S.A. (10%).

    The stakes in Trains 2 and 3 are:

    BP Trinidad LNG B.V. (42.5%)
    British Gas Global Investments B.V. (32.5%)
    Repsol Overzee Financien B.V. (25%)
    TRINIDAD HAS NO STEAK HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The stakes in Train 4 are:

    BP (Barbados) Holding SRL (37.8%)
    British Gas Trinidad LNG Limited (28.9%)
    NGC LNG (Train 4) Limited (11.1%)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(ONLY 11.1%)
    Repsol Overzee Financien B.V. (22.2%)

    It is said that “BP invited Russia’s Gazprom to take a stake in Atlantic LNG” according to some media sources.

    So what are we really looking at here? What kind of oil an natural gas “boom” do we really have? Britain has 60% and over in all Trains!!!!

    Who benefits? Do we own our resources? Clearly we don’t!!

    This is the type of corruption that has to be exposed! the natural gas in this nation belongs to all nationals of T&T and it is not the property of a few in government to do as they wish and sell it off to the “lowest bidder”.

    These are the real issues facing Indians, Africans, Chinese, etc in T&T!

    We cannot be fooled the divisive politics that only seeks to cover up the “real” issues with negative “ethnic” attacks that go back and forth, with each one waiting for the other to screw up so that they can say
    ” yo see?” What ah tell yo!”

    Sadly. Those who are of the same class as these exploiters, together with their apologist like the one’s in the media, the academics, their economist, and those who worship and glorify their foreign masters, benefit from the current state of affairs in T&T. They just love it that way!

  6. I forgot to add this quote from the express.

    “The gas supply contract for the first LNG train was negotiated by the 1995-2001 Prime Minister Basdeo Panday administration and Manning said on September 19, that by the time his administration returned to office in late 2001, the negotiations for Trains II and III were so far advanced, there was nothing that could be done to change them”.

    Ok. But look at “deal”for Train 4 which Prime Minister Manning negotiated ONLY 11.1%! does he think that we are a nation fools?

    What is the difference Between what he did and what opposition leader Panday did? a mere 1.1% difference, Thank you!

    Claims of re-negotiating the contract are being made by the energy minister. But tell me who can trust a leadership that lacked the integrity to stand up and say no to a “deal” that was not in the national interest, even though it was struck under a previous and equally corrupt, weak government!

    If “new” governments had no power to change laws or “deals” that previous ones made, then Prime Minister Eric williams would not have been able to take back Chaguaramas!

    Nor would the PNM be planing to change of the constitution.

    A Revolution is on the way, and no bandage will be able to cover up the large gaping wounds inflicted on the people of T&T by the ever failing parliament and it’s cronies.

  7. Every single cent that I invested in the HCU was worked for and hence earned. None was a handout. I have not received a government house and furnished same with a government grant. My money did not come from government contracts either, nor the proceeds of any crime.

    My investment in the HCU was not based on greed, but rather a comparison of benefits of what I thought was a regulated financial sector – in this case regulated by the Commissioner of Co-operative Development.

    Mr. Cudjoe should know this, writing for writing sake is exercise at best.

  8. Well, as an investor in an institution that has failed, Don’t you think the buck stops with the head of that institution or you think it lies elsewhere? It’s incredible that supposed intelligent people are so blinded by race that they are incapable of laying blame where it belong. I remember when Minister Enil in his former capacity had called for an investigation of this institution and right away the depositors were whining about the government attacking an “Indian” institution and, led by the same chairman they were whaling for all to see. Well, guess what? These investors were warned and now they have what they have – which is nothing

  9. Thomas. The issue here is the environment that has been created by Capitalist politics in T&T. By the Government and the opposition. If a government detested corruption on their soil, they would ensure that certain “strict” regulations with regards to the banking industry etc occur. To protect the citizenry.

    It is plain to see by millions in America who are totally against the “bail out” for example, that George Bush’s “Autocratic rule” is mainly responsible for the “free pass” that was given to the war monger defense contractors, big oil companies, Wall street plunderers and the Banking/mortgage companies.

    Therefore we have to put aside how we “feel” about who we are with regards to ethnicity. This is class question. The fact that the credit union was hindu or the PM is African has no bearing.
    That is a trap set for the people to fall into.

    It is not enough to say that the investors were warned!
    The people who owned homes and lost them because of the corrupt practices of the mortgage companies in the USA were also “warned” by many “experts” that the housing bubble was going to burst.

    Do you think that they ever taught that their homes would be lost? w One day they came home from work, picked up their mail, only to discover that the price of the mortgages “doubled”. making it impossible to pay!

    The capitalist “system” and the governments thereof are responsible!
    Trinidad has such a system, it is exploitative and corrupt.
    It allows for rip off’s such as the International trust and HCU.
    And on a larger scale, the selling out of hydrocarbon resources
    This is what we have to see!

    I would not have mattered if The PNM, UNC, or COP was in power when the HCU ripped the people off, as long as the parliamentary capitalist system is alive and kicking in T&T those parties will carry out its aims, which is to exploit the people on behalf of the foreign multi nationals/governments, carry out the policies of the IMF/World Bank/WTO, and line their pockets in the process.

  10. Hitting on the indians again Selwyn? Look within your own racial group to see where the real trouble lies-banditry, corruption, murders, robberies and all criminal activities ever imagined!

  11. Unless I completely misread the story, the protagonist of “Tell me who to kill” is not Frank. The actual protagonist (Dayo’s brother) is unnamed.

  12. Is there a difference between this story and the Clico collapse?
    Where is Selwyn now?
    One can replace HCU with Clico in Selwyn’s article and his comments would apply.

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