The Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has stated he received legal advice stating the purchase of 659,588 shares by Philip Rahaman and his subsequent sale of 634,588 of those shares to companies owned by his family need not be reversed because First Citizens suffered no financial loss.
Let me categorically express my disagreement with both the Attorney General and his advisers, because I cannot comprehend how such learned men can come to such a false premise. First off I wish to remind the AG and his advisers that the bank is a State-owned institution, belonging to all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago with the Government as custodian. Let me also remind them that public offering of shares to the general public was nine times oversubscribed with many public investors being denied the opportunity to become share owners of First Citizens.
What this means is while First Citizens as an institution suffered no loss, the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago suffered a tremendous loss of being denied the opportunity to purchase any of those shares. Not only was that share purchase by Mr Rahaman ethically wrong, the entire scenario smacks of a vulgar disregard for the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago where every citizen ought to be afforded equal opportunity. There is no way that one person being able to purchase 659,588 shares in a State-owned company can be in accordance with the values and spirit of our constitution.
As legal guardian of the country, I hereby call on the Attorney General to do the ethical, constitutional, legal and morally right thing and reverse that share purchase by Mr Rahaman so that all citizens can have the equal opportunity of becoming shareholders of State-owned bank, First Citizens.