|Chamber calls for independent TTSE chairman |
By CAROL MATROO Tuesday, April 8 2014
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Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce, Catherine Kumar, is calling for an independent chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE).
This follows calls for TTSE chairman Subhas Ramkhelawan, an Independent Senator, to step down from the post since his brokerage firm’s, Bourse Securities, role in a $14 million purchase of First Citizens Bank shares by the bank’s fired chief risk officer Phillip Rahaman is under question. Bourse conducted the transaction for Rahaman who is said to be a relative of the firm’s chairman Imtiaz Rahaman. The shares have since been sold for a $12 million profit.
The transaction is being probed by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and an audit on the deal by PriceWaterhouseCoopers is now being reviewed by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. Kumar, also a former banker, yesterday said there is a conflict in that someone who is the chairman of the Stock Exchange, is also the owner of a stockbroker firm.
Responding to questions after the launch of the Caribbean Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Business Conference “Innovation in Business-The Caribbean Experience”, at the Chamber Building, Westmoorings, yesterday, Kumar stated an independent chairman would be most recommended.
She also asked for a review of the TTSE.
Ramkhelawan has described the calls for his resignation as “premature” adding, “I am sure that I will be vindicated at the end of the investigation” being conducted by the SEC. Ramkhelawan issued a statement last week, insisting Bourse Securities had acted within the confines of the law and regulations that direct the brokerage business. He also said his company has a duty of confidentiality for all its clients’ transactions. Recent reports indicate Ramkhelawan will step aside at the TTSE’s next meeting in May.
Kumar yesterday said despite the firing of Rahaman, First Citizens was still “very strong.” “All the financials are strong and I don’t think there is need to be concerned about the bank’s strength from that point of view,” she said.