New First Citizens chairman Anthony Smart said yesterday the first item on his agenda will be to “deal with the issues” arising out of the State banking group’s Initial Public Offering (IPO).
“We will have to deal with it and it will be the first item on the business agenda...That matter has affected the bank adversely in terms of the news for some extent that I think can be corrected very easily with a new board in place by adhering to the principles of good governance,” Smart told reporters in a media conference immediately after a special general meeting held specifically to elect new members-including himself.
The meeting, held at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s was called by Corporation Sole (the Government represented by the Minister of Finance) after the bank’s annual general meeting on May 12, where the tenure of four board members-including then-chairman Nyree Alfonso-was not renewed.
Then, Corporation Sole, represented by permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance Vishnu Dhanpaul, voted out two directors, Shobee Jacelon and Marlene Juman, and put on the record that the Corporation Sole would not have supported the re-election of Alfonso (who retired from the position) or Rishi Baddaloo (who did not offer himself for re-election). He was asked what direction he intended to take the board and whether or not he intended to follow through on a report commissioned by the previous Alfonso-led board that recommended disciplinary action against three bank officers following the Philip Rahaman IPO scandal (group chief executive Larry Nath; deputy chief executive and corporate secretary Sharon Christopher; and Head of Legal Lindi Ballah-Tull).
“Well I don’t know. I have been chairman of this board for ten minutes and I will obviously have to deal with the episode. But as of now I (can’t) give you any information because I just don’t know,” he said, adding he also was not sure when he will hold his first board meeting.
Noting this new board will be under more scrutiny after the recent IPO scandals, Smart-who was responsible for drafting the code of conduct for government ministers during his term as Attorney General-said he had received a document detailing State enterprise performance and saw one of the responsibilities of a state boards.
Smart, who was nominated by Finance Minister Larry Howai, was among six other directors elected to the board of directors: Witco managing director Jean-Pierre du Coudray; chief executive of Trinity Exploration Joel Pemberton; deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance and the Economy Michelle Durham-Kissoon; attorney and senior partner in Pollonais and Blanc Courtenay Williams; and CEO of the Land Settlement Agency Hazar Hosein.
These six, along with the incumbents-Anil Seeterram (deputy chairman), Nath, Ved Seereeram, Ramish Ramanand, and Vishnu DK Musai, bring the total number of board members to 11-three short of the 15 decided on in the AGM.
Nath, responding to queries why these voids were not filled yesterday, said: “There are further members to be elected. We expect nominations from the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce. That will happen in due course and when it happens we will advise the media accordingly. (These directors) will be filling casual vacancies,” he said.