The Super Cash Back Gold (SCBG) and Bramer Asset Management policyholders took to the streets on Thursday following a statement by the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Jugnauth. The latter stated that BAI was a Ponzi scheme and there was no money to refund policyholders. This prompted the protesters who are on a hunger strike to head to the Prime Minister’s Office and subsequently in front of the Government House.
In the afternoon of Thursday 18th May, the protesters blocked the traffic at the Place d’Armes in Port Louis. Some of the protesters even sat on the road. Labour Party member Arvin Boolell was also present among the protesters and called for the policyholders to be refunded. The situation was quite tense. Around 13.00 hr, the situation was under control following discussions between high raking police officers and some protesters. They then returned to Jardin de la Compagnie.
Pravind Jugnauth: “It was a Ponzi scheme”
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared that the BAI group had set up a Ponzi scheme and that the government prevented several thousand people from losing their money during a prize giving ceremony for the 2016 laureates at the State House, on Thursday.
“I say it once more. The BAI affair was a Ponzi scheme to steal people’s money. We have done everything possible to prevent this, in order to protect our economy and thousands jobs.” The Prime Minister once again stated that there is not enough money to honour the government’s commitments towards the clients of the ex-BAI Group.
“As you know, there was a Minister who dealt with this issue [Roshi Bhadain]. But he fled after making several promises. Today, we know that there is not enough money. The government needs additional time to find a solution.” Pravind Jugnauth asked the policyholders to end their strike and could not promise that a solution will be found.
Replying to former Prime Minister, Mr Jugnauth said: “Navin Ramgoolam was an accomplice of the rise of Dawood Rawat. He is the last person who can have a say on this issue. Navin Ramgoolam is the one who allowed this situation to develop.”
Strikers of vidur co-operative society
The four members of the Vidur Co-operative Society, who have been on hunger strike since Thursday 11th May, decided visit the strikers at Jardin de la Compagnie where the other seven clients of SCBG and BAM are also on hunger strike. They decided to join their fellow policyholders so as to make their voice heard and at the same time to express their solidarity. However, members of the co-operative society have not yet decided if they will stay in the garden to continue their hunger strike.
The eleven strikers (four from the Vidur Co-operative Society and seven at the Jardin de la Compagnie) are all asking for the reimbursement of their money invested in these two investment plans of the former BAI group. 1,138 members of the Vidur Co-operative Society, invested Rs 72 million in the SCBG and BAM. The presence of some politicians, including former Minister Arvin Boolell and the MP Salim Abass Mamode, did not go unnoticed at the Jardin de la Compangie.
Independent MP Mrs Danielle Selvon, in a statement to Radio Plus on Thursday afternoon, said she will join the hunger strike with the members of the Vidur Co-operative Society if Cabinet does not find a solution for them on Friday 19 May. Danielle Selvon made the statement at Jardin de la Compagnie.
Navin Ramgoolam warns SICOM and NIC Board
The leader of the Labour Party, Navin Ramgoolam, is asking for the setting up of a commission of inquiry on the BAI case. According to him, the former Chairman of BAI, Mr Dawood Rawat, had “become a thorn” for some people because of the democratisation of the economy. “Dawood never refused to pay anyone. No one can complain for not receiving their money. I know he is not a victim of political vendetta. Dawood Rawat was part of the democratisation of the economy. I said that only group should not control everything. Everyone has the right to live and there must be sharing. He was a danger and hence, they got rid of him,” stated Dr Ramgoolam after a visit at Belle Vue Maurel.
The former Prime Minister said that the members of the society must be paid. He also warned SICOM and the National Pension Fund. “I solemnly warn the Board of SICOM and National Insurance Company not to inject taxpayers money in NIC. You won’t have grounds to complain where there will be inquiries.”
Xavier Luc Duval: “It’s unfair”
The leader of the opposition, Mr Xavier-Luc Duval, was the first to visit the strikers of Belle Vue Maurel on Wednesday. According to him, the government is “discriminating” against those who have invested through a cooperative and those who have invested individually. “It’s very sad. There are approximately 1,100 people who have invested in the BAI Group through a co-operative society. The government did not reimburse them. It is unfair. I raised this issue a number of times when I was in government. We cannot do that kind of discrimination. I promised them that I will raise this issue in Parliament as opposition leader. In addition, I will see with the PMSD legal team to see how far they can be helped. Such discrimination is not only unfair but also illegal,” he said.