Sunday, January 21, 2018

‘Much misunderstanding’ over bank share offering

Philip Rahaman, group chief risk officer at State bank First Citi­zens, believes there is “much misunderstanding” about the bank’s initial public offering (IPO) of shares.

In his first public statement on his purchase of more than 659,000 First Citizens shares, Rahaman referred to the ongoing audit of the IPO process ordered by Finance Minister Larry Howai.

In a brief e-mailed statement Tuesday, Rahaman said he would “not be in a position” to provide a comment on the share purchase “given the current review being undertaken”.

But he maintained: “What I would say, however, is that there certainly seems to be much misunderstanding in the public domain regarding the process around the bank’s IPO.”

First Citizens, in its 2013 annual report, noted Rahaman purchased 659,588 shares at a total cost of about $14 million during the bank’s IPO.

The Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange recently noted it was informed by the bank that a senior executive had sold more that 634,000 shares, resulting in a profit of about $12 million. Based on the number of shares owned and traded, it has been assumed the executive was Rahaman.

Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran yesterday remained mum on the share purchase and subsequent sale. He declined comment on the situation involving Rahaman when approached by the Express during the formal opening of a two-day forum, entitled “Increasing Competitiveness Through Innovation and Public-Private Partnerships”.

He would not comment because of the ongoing audit ordered by Howai.

The forum, which is being held at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s, is hosted by the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute and the World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organisations.

Rambarran said the Central Bank will make a statement on the situation at the right time.

—additional reporting by Carla Bridglal