Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan does not feel that his position as an Independent Senator has been compromised by the controversial purchase and sale of 659,588 shares of First Citizens by Philip Rahaman, a transaction which was handled by Bourse Securities, of which he (Ramkhelawan) is managing director.
“Because of the various hats I wear I am subject to even more scrutiny than most persons from various prospectives,” he said.
“If there are any laws that have been broken, if I have not acted in accordance with the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, then it (the issue of being compromised) could be a valid argument. But as far as I am concerned...and I wear various hats and questions have been raised with regard to my chairmanship of the Stock Exchange...But I don’t think there is any matter as far as that is concerned.”
Told that he fell under the Integrity Commission, he said in matters relating to securities and securities trading, he said as managing director of Bourse Securities he was accountable to the SECC. He said in matter relating to his role as a Independent, there were “other players” who raised any matter with respect to that role.
Was there any overlap? “That is something when you look at the laws you would have to define,” Ramkhelawan stated.
Asked whether he would be constrained or in an uneasy position in any debate in the Senate on the issue of the First Citizens, he said he would operate in accordance with the Standing Orders as they affect his role in the Senate and in accordance with the laws.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Ramkhelawan said Bourse had a duty of confidentiality with respect to its clients. “And that means whether someone is a client of ours or not, is a confidentiality that we would have to protect. So we cannot disclose whether someone is a client of ours,” he said.
Ramkhelawan said if someone was a client, Bourse could not reveal transactions that would have been done. “This is a requirement in accordance with the law. So while I understand that the press wants disclosure, I and Bourse are constrained by the laws that we have to act in accordance with (it),” he said.
He said the issue of Imtiaz Rahaman being an executive chairman, which has cropped up in the media, was untrue. “Mr Rahaman became chairman ...in December and ...does not get involved in the day-to-day operations or management of Bourse. That is a matter for the managing director which is me,” Ramkhelawan stated. He said Rahaman’s role as chairman involves working on the strategic direction of the company.
Ramkhelawan said a number of newspaper articles had sought to draw him out into an arena in which he could not go because he would in effect be not acting in accordance with the law, rules and the regulations. He said however that Bourse had developed a reputation over time for the highest standards of integrity and it planned to continue to maintain that.
Ramkhelawan said the question of ethics and governance would be a matter of judgment for all the various parties. “If Bourse undertook any particular transaction, what I can tell you is that Bourse will act in accordance with the rules and regulations, which is an important plank of how we have conducted our business.”
He said Bourse was subject to its regulator under the rules and laws, the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission. He said he wanted to assure the general public that Bourse acted in accordance with the rules and laws. He said he had built up a reputation in financial business over the last 30 years.