Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 4th 2014 Contents SBG6 NEWS
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MAY 4 • 2014
Shakespeare s Hamlet
was not a business-
man. Were he speaking
today, however, his
may have been more
whether to buy, or not
to buy shares.
The recent trouble with First Citizens has
pushed share purchasing as a means of invest-
ment on to the frontburner of the news menu.
It was a scandal to rival any soap opera, starring
an executive who allegedly used his position
as an employee to buy 659,588 shares in the
undersubscribed employee bucket and a relative
at a brokerage company who may have facil-
itated the purchase.
So far, the fallout has been the dismissal of
the executive, the resignation of the T&T Stock
Exchange chairman and independent senator,
Subhas Ramkhelawan, and calls for more heads
to roll at the highest levels of the bank.
Since the IPO scandal broke, the purchase
and sale of the block of shares has drawn
comment from several prominent individuals
in society---from business experts to advocates
of financial reform---calling into question the
integrity of First Citizens Bank and its shares
as investment instruments. Even the repre-
sentative union at the bank, the Banking,
Insurance and General Workers Union, has
had its say and claims what it said was mis-
The banks workers have remained silent
through all of this.
According to the bank s 2013 annual report,
the bank has 1,800 members of staff and,
according to one report in a daily newspaper,
1073 of them purchased shares. This has been
confirmed by one senior official at the bank
who told the Sunday BG, that close to 1,100
workers bought shares. That represents almost
60 per cent of First Citizens workers. The
workers allotment of shares was some 7.8 per
cent of the 48,495,665 shares issued in the
The bank has a corporate communications
department, authorised to speak on its behalf.
There are also executives who can speak for
the bank in their own right and the union,
which represents workers can also, by virtue
of the fact, represent employees views.
The Sunday BG, however, went directly to
some workers to get their views and opinions.
The question: why 60 per cent of the bank s
employees purchased shares and 40 per cent
did not, particularly since employees were able
to access them at a special price of $19.80,
with an interest-free loan to be paid off over
a five-year period, to do so if necessary.
Workers unwilling to speak
The Sunday BG soon found out few employ-
ees were prepared to speak.
As it was later revealed by one of the
employees interviewed, instructions not to
talk to media about any aspect of the IPO
affair were issued directly by the bank s cor-
porate communications department. Attempts
by Sunday BG to interview several employees
outside bank branches across the country were
steadily rebuffed with most employees hurrying
away as soon as they realised they were talking
A few would volunteer some information,
though, but in front of the bank their responses
were curt and general, limited to yes or no
and why they bought the shares.
Those who could be convinced to meet or
speak away from the bank revealed just how
complex the issue of employees buying shares
Not all about making profit
One employee caught outside a branch was
a 23-year-old junior officer who purchased
500 shares using the interest-free loan facility.
"I thought it was a good investment," she
This was her first stock purchase and she
invested because she believed she had little
"I m confident that the bank is doing well."
But she refused to answer additional questions
about the IPO purchase.
Meanwhile, another first-time purchaser,
who answered questions away from his branch
via telephone, said he purchased his 365 shares
also because he thought it was a good invest-
He, however, did not use the loan facility.
"If I had taken a loan, I could have invested
more. But some people prefer to use their cash
in hand as opposed to taking a loan in order
to make an investment even if it was an inter-
A 28-year-old junior officer, who has 7 and
1/2 years of service at the bank, said several
other employees also refused to take the loan
facility and chose to invest their own money.
When asked why he did this, he explained:
"To me, the financial performance of the bank
was strong and is strong. It was a risk, of
First Citizens Bank workers speak out on shares offered during the IPO
Why some bought
and others did not
Continued on Page 7
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