Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 15th 2014 Contents A10
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley
says Government needs to replace the
First Citizens Bank board if they have
any intention of restoring foreign
investors confidence in T&T.
Speaking at the People s National
Movement s Family Day at the Guapo
Beach Facility, Point Fortin, on Sunday,
Rowley said although FCB chief risk offi-
cer Phillip Rahaman was fired after an
internal audit showed he purchased
659,588 bank shares during its Initial
Public Offering (IPO) and sold 634,588
of those shares four months later, the
entire board was culpable in the matter.
Noting that slow economic growth
under the People s Partnership Govern-
ment has stymied investments, Rowley
said the fiasco at the bank was one of
many reasons why there will continue
to be low public confidence in T&T.
"I say to the Government, demonstrate
that you understand a small modicum
of what it means to have confidence in
something, because if there is no con-
fidence in the banking, you have no bank,"
Rowley told the gathering.
"To restore the confidence to FCB, to
ensure that people in charge get that kind
of responsibility, not only based on law
but on ethics, we need the board of the
FCB to be replaced, having taken respon-
sibility for the fiasco that has taken place
there. "This will point us to the other
boards so when you come to have an IPO
anywhere else, those boards will know
what is expected of them and we shall
have confidence that they will conduct
themselves to your satisfaction."
Rowley said if Government had under-
stood the importance of investor confi-
dence the board would have been fired
already. He said it was the board that
oversaw the sales of shares to the staff
and public and they had made a "total
mess" of it. "They want us to accept that
the board has no liability in the matter.
Then we have people telling you that the
board wasn t there when it was done,
the board was blindsided and the board
didn t know what happened so you can t
hold them accountable," he said.
"If a board could tell you they don t
know what happened and on that basis
they should not be held accountable,
what do you want that board for?"
At last week s post-Cabinet meeting,
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said
he could find no evidence of wrongdoing
by the FCB board, as the issue was
brought to their attention after the trans-
actions were done. He said the board
had taken immediate action by dismissing
Rahaman and that they were not involved
in the day-to-day operations of the bank,
adding it was the responsibility of the
Divestment Secretariat and the manage-
ment. However, Rowley did not buy the
AG s statement. "If they understood what
confidence meant they would not tolerate
in our most successful bank, a board that
oversaw an initial offer of putting shares
out to the staff and the public, overseeing
it and made a total mess of it.
"When it became known to the public
that something had gone radically wrong
with the allocation of shares at the bank
and that bank officers had helped them-
selves to huge chunks of bank shares,
violation of government policy and pos-
sibly the law ... now the Attorney General
is telling us that he has a report from the
Minister of Finance and he has sent the
report to the Commissioner of Police and
the Director of Public Prosecution."
Gov't falling back in
PNM's crime initiative
Rowley also criticised Government s
plan to implement a new crime fighting
unit to support the police service, saying
that after four years of failure in crime
they were now resorting to the PNM
brainchild of the Special Anti-Crime Unit
(SAUTT). "Now that we are on the verge
of entering the last year of service, they
are telling you they are going to bring
back the very things that they said we
didn t want. "I am putting you on notice
now that the Government is currently
preparing to bring back into Trinidad
and Tobago, a special anti crime unit.
"While I am saying it now and they
are hearing me, they might change the
name, but whatever they call it, it will
be a special anti crime unit to support
the police service in a particular way, in
the very way SAUTT had done."
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has cleared the
air on his recent visit to the Bahrain on Sunday night,
saying it was business trip aimed at expanding T&T s
Confident of becoming the country s next prime minister,
Rowley announced plans to continue with the People s
National Movement s scrapped Vision 2020 initiatives
developed under former Prime Minister Patrick Manning.
Speaking to supporters at the PNM s Family Day at the
Guapo Beach Facility, Point Fortin, Rowley defended the
PNM s efforts to construct an aluminium smelter back in
2008, saying it, along with a proper revenue authority,
would have increased the country s earnings.
Explaining his trip, Rowley said he visited Bahrain s
industrial complex to determine whether the programmes
they had put in place to develop their economy could be
applied to T&T. He said back in 2002 when they were
drafting Vision 2020, Bahrain had a similar developing
economy like T&T.
"One of the countries Trinidad and Tobago compared
itself with was Bahrain, because they have so many things
in common with Trinidad and Tobago. It was a small
country, had a small population, about the size of Trinidad
and Tobago, had the same kind of economy based on oil
and gas, was located in a strategic area with a large economic
base and the expectation to develop itself rapidly," he said.
"We studied Bahrain and we sought to learn from what
they were going to do and to see how Trinidad and Tobago
could match and measure itself with Bahrain. It was very
important and interesting for me to go there last week to
see what has happened there in the last decade as against
what we were looking at in 2002. I can tell you that as
I walked through Bahrain last week, I felt that Trinidad
and Tobago has been left behind."
In 2008, both opposition United National Congress and
the Congress of the People, along with environmental
activists, protested heavily against the PNM s proposed
$600 million aluminium smelter plant at the Union Indus-
trial Estate, La Brea, citing environmental and health haz-
However, Rowley said Bahrain was now in the process
of upgrading their plant to a one million-tonne capacity.
"The people of Bahrain are not being poisoned and they
are not being killed by the aluminium smelter. In fact,
they are using the best technology in the world and they
are carving out a space for themselves in the world in alu-
minium sales and supplies, which makes them the envy
of the industrial world," Rowley said.
"A small country like Trinidad and Tobago, they have
taken the same steps that we had taken and have done
the very thing we thought we couldn t do because we got
advice from people here that we should not do it."
As he chastised the Government for the cancellation of
the project, he said the Government was now in an arbi-
tration in the United State for the discontinuance of another
"They haven t told you about the arbitration that is
taking place in America, where there is a claim of US$175
million against the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Attorney General tells you he can t talk about it because
it is subjudice. Lie! There is no court matter, it s an arbi-
tration," Rowley said.
...I went to look
at Bahrain's plan
Rowley knocks Govt handling of FCB fiasco
be fired, too
A People's National Movement (PNM) supporter reacts during a performance from
calypsonian Weston "Cro Cro" Rawlins during the PNM's Family Day at the Guapo
Beach Facility in Point Fortin on Sunday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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