Wednesday, February 21, 2018

‘IPO’ report must stay under wraps

Howai discloses advice from DPP, AG:

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Attorney General both advised that the PricewaterhouseCoopers report from its investigation into financial impropriety into the First Citizens initial public offering (IPO) cannot be made public at this time, says Finance Minister Larry Howai.

The minister disclosed this while speaking on the Finance (Supplementation and Variation of Appropriation) (Financial Year 2014) Bill, 2014, which asks for $3.8 billion more to fund Government projects and programmes.

“The Attorney General, following consultations with the DPP, has advised that the report cannot be tabled or publicly and widely shared until the investigation is complete,” said Howai.

He said the Attorney General advised it would be unwise and unfair to the investigati­on.

Howai said the report was also shared with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which itself is conducting an investigation.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley pointed out he had filed a question on the Order Paper with respect to this issue, and wondered whether this was Howai’s roundabout way of responding.

House Speaker Wade Mark urged Howai to not divulge details until Rowley’s question on the order was properly answered.

Prior to Mark’s advice, Howai said despite the negative publicity which surrounded the IPO, “it cannot be denied that the IPO was a financial success”.

He said the Government’s divestment of approximately $48.5 million shares in an eager investment climate generated over $1 billion in revenue. The demand created by the IPO increased the worth of the rest of the shares held in the bank, he said.

Howai said the initial share price was $22 while currently the price now stands at $37, as at earlier this month.

He said when the IPO shares were offered at $22, the Government’s 80 per cent stake was valued at $4.3 billion, and today that shareholding is worth $7 billion.

“I would not want the actions of one or two individuals to sully what has been a very successful enterprise by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Howai.