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Bourse: We did no wrong in FCB IPO

Saturday, April 5 2014

BOURSE Securities managing director Subhas Ramkhelawan yesterday maintained the firm has done nothing wrong with respect to an application for shares in the First Citizens Bank (FCB) initial public offering (IPO) and subsequent trades.

Ramkhelawan reiterated this position, even as Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert called upon Finance Minister Larry Howai to restore public confidence in FCB and the TT Transparency Institute (TTTI) expressed concern that the bank’s reputation had been tarnished by this matter.

In a paid advertisement, Ramkhelawan (who is also an Independent senator and TT Stock Exchange chairman), declared Bourse has maintained “the highest standards of integrity in all its activities.”

Questions have been raised in this matter about the role played by Bourse Securities, regarding the acquisition of $14 million worth of FCB shares by former chief risk officer Phillip Rahaman. Ramkhelawan said while statements have been made to the effect that Bourse acted as the broker that managed these trades, Bourse has a duty of “confidentiality for all its clients” transactions.

“As such Bourse cannot divulge whether or not any individual or group is a client,” he said.

Ramkhelawan said Bourse cannot disclose information related to any trade executed on behalf of any client except as may be required by law, stating Bourse would be required to submit such information to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

Saying Bourse has no outstanding requests from the SEC, Ramkhelawan said the firm’s chairman Imitiaz Rahaman (a relative of Phillip Rahaman) is not an executive chairman and is not involved in Bourse’s daily operations. He said Imitiaz has been a director at the company since January 1996 and was elected chairman last December.

During debate on the Finance Bill 2014 in Parliament, Imbert declared, “No cover up. Let the chips fall where they may.

Let the guilty pay. Prosecute those who need to be prosecuted. Get rid of the board if you feel it is appropriate.”

As a citizen Imbert said he felt very proud of FCB but he did not hold Howai in high regard as Finance minister, stating, “He was a very good CEO of that bank. He should’ve stayed there.”

Saying the bank enjoyed tremendous confidence in this country while Howai was CEO, Imbert quipped, “I’m sorry to say that it is not so now.” He said FCB’s share price had dropped from $42 when the IPO was launched last year to $34.

“The share price of FCB has dropped by over 20 percent since all this confusion has erupted with this IPO,” Imbert observed.

Throwing picong for Howai, Imbert said Howai “likes to talk a lot” but was now under a “gag order” from the Attorney General over the IPO.

On Thursday, Howai said Cabinet decided to refer the matter to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

In a statement, TTTI described First Citizens chairman Nyree Alfonso’s reported initial comments when this matter first arose as unfortunate.

TTTI said questions such as the absence of a cap on the number of shares FCB staff and executives could acquire and the source of Rahaman’s funds to purchase these shares need to be answered.

Urging Howai and the SEC to take steps to preserve the integrity of the stock market and future IPOs in the country, TTTI called for the Finance Ministry’s investigation into this matter to be “made public promptly.”

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