|SUBHAS STEPS ASIDE |
By Sasha Harrinanan Friday, April 11 2014
Subhas Ramkhelawan yesterday resigned from his posts as chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE) and as an Independent Senator.
Ramkhelawan, who remains as managing director of Bourse Securities Limited, said he chose to do so “to ensure that the office of Senator, which I hold in very high regard, does not find itself enmeshed in any legal actions.”
Regarding the TTSE, he told reporters during a press conference yesterday at Kapok Hotel, Maraval, that he did not want “to be in the position where questions may arise in the context of my role of chairman, and any investigations that the Stock Exchange may wish to undertake with regard to this particular matter.”
Ramkhelawan’s announcement occurred at 3.30 pm, about an hour after Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, addressed the issue of the purchase of 659,588 shares during First Citizens Bank’s initial public offering (IPO) and subsequent re-sale of the majority of those shares, by the bank’s then Chief Risk Officer, Philip Rahaman. The bank has since fired Rahaman. Bourse Securities handled Rahaman’s purchase of the bank shares.
Questioned about the timing of his resignations, Ramkhelawan denied any link to the Attorney General’s announcement that he was taking certain actions with respect to the share sale. Those actions included referring the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and to the Commissioner of Police; sending the case to the Securities Exchange Commission for an urgent investigation, and advising the Finance Ministry to review its IPO practice to avoid a repeat of the situation.
“At 10.15 am, I submitted my resignation to His Excellency, the President, as (Independent) Senator in the Parliament of the Republic of TT. At 1 pm today (yesterday), I submitted my resignation as chairman of the TTSE...I do not have any nexus (connection) with the Attorney General or anybody else with regard to that matter.”
He also said he had not seen the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report on the IPO, which the Attorney General had reviewed prior to speaking at the post Cabinet press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, yesterday, nor had he heard what Ramlogan said.
In a statement issued shortly after Ramkhelawan’s press conference had ended, the TTSE said its deputy chairman, Peter Clarke, would “preside at all meetings of the board until the first board meeting following the Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 8, 2014.”
The TTSE added that Ramkhelawan “remains a director on the board of the Stock Exchange.”
The Office of President Anthony Carmona also issued a statement, confirming its receipt and acceptance of Ramkhelawan’s resignation.
“His Excellency, in a letter dated April 10, 2014 to Mr Ramkhelawan has expressed his deep appreciation to Mr Ramkhelawan for services rendered to the Parliament and by extension the people of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in his capacity as an Independent Senator. His Excellency further wished him all the best and all success in his future endeavours,” the statement read.
Self-described minority shareholder rights advocate, Peter Permell, issued a statement of his own on the resignation announcement.
“I think the TTSE, the Parliament and the country can now breathe a collective sigh of relief that Mr Subhas Ramkhelawan has finally found it in him to do the honourable thing by resigning his position not only as chairman of the TTSE but also as an Independent Senator.”
During his press conference, Ramkhelawan revealed he had “never regretted giving public service to the citizens of TT, and at the right time, after this matter is resolved, I would want to go back to continue my work in public service.”
Ramkhelawan also expressed confidence that Bourse “will be vindicated when the facts are established by the duly authorised regulator.”
Asked if he planned to take legal action regarding claims made about him and Bourse, Ramkhelawan said, “There is misinformation and there are wrongful allegations, and I will be advised by our attorneys as to what action I should be taking in the case of myself, and in the case of Bourse Securities.”
He added that “these matters will be carefully considered in going forward.”
He disclosed it had been “extremely difficult” to manage the “flanks” of Independent Senator, TTSE chairman, and be managing director of Bourse Securities at the same time.
“What I have done is to clear both flanks — the chairmanship and the question of Independent Senator and co-ordinator — so that I can concentrate on Bourse Securities Limited and ensure
that its name is properly cleared and vindicated, and that of myself in whatever role that I play
from now on,” Ramkhelawan