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TT Transparency wants FCB audit made public

Monday, April 7 2014

THE Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) is calling for the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) audit into the controversial multi-million dollar purchase and sale of First Citizens Bank (FCB) shares by a former senior manager of that bank to be made public.

In addition, the institute is also calling on Finance Minister Larry Howai and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to state clearly to the public what steps will be taken to preserve the integrity of the stock market and future Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) in this country.

The TTTI, in an emailed media release, expressed its disappointed at the FCB shares purchase and resale controversy.

“We regret the tarnishing of the Bank’s reputation now, given that for 20 years, First Citizens has generally exhibited good governance, fiscal husbandry, exemplary leadership and garnered many international awards based on that track record,”stated the release.

“We consider unfortunate the initial response of the FCB Chairman (Nyree Alphonso) that, ‘you cannot use morals and ethics because everyone’s are different…no regulatory rule was broken.’” Despite this assertion, the former Chief Risk Officer of FCB, Hassan Phillip Rahaman was fired two months after his sale of 659,588 shares which he bought in the FCB IPO.

“However, this development in no way mitigates the need for answers from this institution – which is owned by the taxpayers — from the Minister of Finance and from the SEC to the questions which civil society and the media have asked,” the release added.



Permell: Boycott TTSE

Meanwhile, Minority Shareholder Rights advocate Peter Permell yesterday called on “all honest, decent and right thinking citizens” to boycott the TT Stock Exchange (TTSE) until such time that Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan steps down as Chairman of the TTSE or the Board takes the necessary action to have him removed.

Permell made the call saying Ramkhelawan is the principal and Managing Director of Bourse Securities Ltd. one of the TT Stock Exchange (TTSE) member firms and also has an interest in one of the listed securities on the Exchange;

He also described Ramkhelawan as a “politically exposed person” having served as an Independent Senator and past member of a Joint Select Committee of the Parliament.

And as such, Permell opined that Ramkhelawan as TTSE chairman is not independent which is not in accordance with principles and best practice. Permell said that compliance with the TT Corporate Governance Code requires that the Chairperson of the TTSE Board should be a non-executive director and preferably an independent director and where the Chairman of the Board is not an independent non-executive Director, the Board should appoint a lead independent Director.

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