T he French Ambassador made an 11th-hour attempt to rescue Indochina Insurance Co, according to Post sources.
Indochine closed on October 22 and is in liquidation after being unable to comply with a Ministry of Economy and Finance demand for a $7 million capital deposit.
Indochine managing-director Philippe Lenain, after being questioned by police in response to employee complaints that they had not been paid, took refuge with his family in the French Embassy, leaving for Paris soon after. "Our safety was under threat," he said in a faxed statement.
Post sources say French Ambassador Yvon Roe d'Albert made an appeal to the government for the company to continue operating and allow a takeover by the French insurance giant Macif. The French Government Development Agency (AFD) was also prepared to invest $3 million in Indochine. The ambassador was unavailable for comment.
Lenain said in his statement that on August 14 the minister signed an order to close Indochine, freeze all bank accounts and nominate a liquidator. He said the Macif/AFD proposals were not enough to "change anything in the MEF's determination to liquidate Indochine.
"Deprived of liquidities and under growing pressure from MEF, Indochine had no choice but to shut down its operation on October 22. On that day around 30,000 policies were in force; 130 premium cheques totalling $244,863 could not be cashed; and $150,000 owed to various suppliers could not be paid.
"The cheques are in my possession and with a view to avoid misappropriation by any other entity than Indochine, I shall return them to clients," Lenain said.
In an earlier statement Lenain alleged Indochine was being victimized by the Government-owned insurance company Caminco.