Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Alfonso up for re-election as First Citizens chairman

Come May 12, Nyree Alfonso is up for re-election as the chair of First Citizens at the bank’s annual general meeting in Port of Spain.

First Citizens’ 12,000 new share­holders can also choose whether to vote back to the board two other direc­­tors—Rishi Baddaloo and Indu Shoba Jacelon.

But if contractor and First Citizens shareholder Emile Elias has his way, Alfonso and the entire First Citizens board will be out.

Elias, in a telephone inter­view with the Sunday Express yesterday, said he’s hoping within the next week, the board resigns, following the fall-out from the Rahaman fiasco.

Philip Rahaman, for­mer chief risk officer at the bank, was fired after he purchased 659,588 shares from the bank’s employee bucket during its initial public offering (IPO) last August, allegedly as a front for his cousin Imtiaz Rahaman, his aunt and five Rahaman-controlled businesses. 

Imtiaz is the chairman of Bourse Securities, owned by former inde­-

pendent senator Subhas Ramkhe­lawan. 

Ramkhelawan has since resigned as chairman of the Trinidad and To-

­bago Stock Exchange and as an Inde­-

pendent senator. The matter is still under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

There have been numerous calls for the board to resign following the Rahaman fiasco but they have not acceded.

Elias said he had given share­hol­der activist Peter Permell his proxy form to vote against Alfonso and the two other directors.

He said what was being proposed was a three-year term extension for the chairman, and he’s of the firm view she should not be re-elected.

“She has not distinguished herself in her comments over the alleged misconduct in the Rahaman issue. She offered a spirited defence,” he claimed.

For her part, Alfonso has main­tained she defended the bank’s allo­cation process as employees were allowed to purchase any amount, according to the IPO prospectus.

Elias is cognisant it is the corporation sole that ultimately has the final say in Alfonso’s reap­point­ment. In his view, Finance Minister Larry Howai has a proven track record of integrity and good gov­er­nance, and the Government should give him a free hand to exer­cise his discretion in a new chairman and board.

“Hopefully, the board can be replaced with people who have bank­ing experience and ethics,” he said.

In response yesterday, Alfonso explained the changing of the direc­tors was supposed to be done in alpha­betical order and that’s why she’s up for re-election.

She maintained there was no wrong-doing on the part of the board in the IPO process.