Finance Minister Larry Howai says the investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) into the purchase and subsequent sale of First Citizens shares by the bank’s former chief risk officer Philip Rahaman is centred on building a case that could stand up in court.
A Sunday Express exclusive investigation showed that Rahaman disposed of 634,588 of his 659,588 shares to his cousin Imtiaz Rahaman, the chairman of Bourse Securities, to his mother Alia Rita Rahaman, and to five companies of the Rahaman-family controlled Rahamut Group on January 14.
Rahaman’s 634,588 shares were not put on sale on the open market, but sold at a higher market price through seven trades by the Rahaman family.
Rahaman, who had paid $14.5 million for the shares, sold the 634,588 shares for $26.7 million, making a profit of approximately $12.2 million. In addition, he had also pocketed $718,950.92 in dividends from the bank in December. Rahaman was fired from the bank last Monday after the board said it had lost confidence in him.
Howai is expected to receive a final copy of the PWC report today.
In an e-mailed response to the Express, he noted, “There is some information that isn’t in the public domain (and I acknowledge the media’s right to go after that information), but we have not made this public to ensure that we do nothing that compromises the process of bringing anyone who may be guilty of breaching the Securities Act 2012 into the net, since the matter does not only involve the bank.
“The process of building a case that would stand up in court is one that requires thoroughness and an approach that does not seem to prejudge the issue. In this regard, I acknowledge that our local regulatory authorities do not have a lot of experience in dealing with matters such as these and it may take a bit longer than where the process is one that is well worn.”
To this end, he explained that the Government has used external assistance from PWC in Canada and the Bahamas and the Securities and Exchange Commission has engaged PWC from Canada in its investigation.
“We acknowledge also that we must ensure due process both in the bank and outside as we have a responsibility to ensure that we are fair to everyone and that whatever decision is made in the end can stand up to scrutiny,” he said.