Friday, December 15, 2017

First Citizens deputy chair resigns

Deputy chairman of First Citizens’ Bank Anil Seeterram has resigned.

This was disclosed by Finance Minister Larry Howai in the House of Representatives yesterday in response to a question from Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.

Howai said the PriceWaterhouse Report on the First Citizens IPO did not examine the purchase of shares by Anil Seeterram’s father Chanka Seeterram.

Howai said he learnt of the purchase after the report had been done and he then referred the matter to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As reported exclusively by the Sunday Express, Chanka Seeterram had purchased at the end of July 2013, 458,274 shares in the IPO at a cost of $9.6 million and Medical Associates, where he is corporate secretary purchased 155,261 shares at a cost of $3.2 million. Both sets of shares were sold in September 2013. Seeterram’s son, Anil was deputy chairman of First Citizens and served as acting chairman.

Rowley asked whether Howai was concerned about the chairmanship of First Citizens at the time when the acting chairman (Seeterram) was put into the position. Howai said the preliminary information the Government had with respect to that specific transaction (Seeterram’s purchase), the informal feedback from the SEC was that “perhaps they did not see any issues that would require their attention, following upon the information becoming available”.

“They continue that investigation to determine whether there are other ancillary issues that need to be address. Based on the preliminary feedback I have received from the SEC, we decided there was no need to make any specific changes at the time. I should add that subsequent to that, the acting chairman who at the time was the deputy chairman of the board has indicated he has resigned,” he said.

Rowley said now that Howai had a report on the Rahaman purchase and there are now similar issues with respect to the Seeterram purchase, has the minister taken steps to have an investigation into that aspect of the IPO. Howai said the SEC has started its own investigation

He said the PriceWaterhouse Report was referred to the DPP by the Attorney General. He said he was advised that the release of the report could prejudice ongoing investigations being conducted by the SEC and any action which may have to be taken by the DPP. Howai said Government did not contemplate the laying of the report in Parliament.



 Anil Seeterram’s resignation has not yet been reported on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exhange (TTSE) and unlike the other directors who have resigned, his picture and post are still on First Citizens website.

It’s a stark contrast to Vishnu Musai, who resigned from the State enterprise on June 30 and the bank sent a formal notice to the TTSE and his picture was removed from the website.

Musai joined John Tang Nian and Anthony Mohammed, who resigned on June 12 and June 13, respectively. 

All three directors were part of the Nyree Alfonso-chaired board at the bank.

Alfonso and another director Rishi Badaloo had opted to resign  at the bank’s May 12 annual general meeting while Marlene Juman and Shobee Jacelon were voted out by the majority shareholder, the Corporation Sole.

Three remaining directors from her board that have been included in the Anthony Smart-chaired board are Anil Seeterram, Ved Seereeram and Ramish Ramanand.

Seeterram’s exit from the company means there are now three vacancies for directors on the board. 

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce and the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association have to also submit nominees to the board.

The director’s exit comes after months of extensive news coverage on the State company after it was revealed that the bank’s chief risk officer, Phillip Rahaman had acquired 656,588 shares during the bank’s initial public offering in August 2013 as an alleged front for his cousin Imtiaz Rahaman, his aunt and five other Rahaman-owned businesses. —Asha Javeed