Saturday, February 24, 2018

Rowley, Drayton praise ex-senator

Subhas Ramkhelawan resigns

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said he was happy Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan has taken the route he has—of resigning from the Senate and Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange.

Ramkhelawan, who was appointed a senator in 2007, ended his tenure in the Upper House yesterday in the face of conflict-of-interest allegations and questions about the involvement of his company, Bourse Securities, in the sale and purchase of some 655,000 shares in the First Citizens IPO (initial public offering).

Ramkhelawan’s announcement came shortly after Attorney General Anand Ramlogan disclosed the case file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to ascertain whether charges should be laid in the matter.

“The whole investigation must continue and identify every step of the way what happened, who did what, who knew what. Only then you would know if laws were broken and persons are to be charged,” said Rowley.

 He added the investigation must discover what happened, who did it and how and when it was done, what purpose it was done for, who are the beneficiaries and so on.

“All these things must come out, so the thing now start,” he said.

AG Ramlogan said Ramkhelawan’s decision was “wise”, given the sensitive circumstances which called into question his role in the First Citizens shares issue.

 “He has been an outstanding Independent senator and a man with an impeccable record of national service and he has acted in the highest  traditions of public office. He has now given himself the opportunity to concentrate on clearing his name and focus on the issues that have  engulfed and encircled him,” the Attorney General stated.

Independent Senator Helen Drayton, commenting on Ramkhelawan’s resignation, said: “I have sat alongside Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan in the Senate for nearly seven years and I have always admired and respected his vast knowledge, excellent presentations, and dedicated service to Trinidad and Tobago.

“In fact, we have known each other for decades, since we were both bankers—he at Republic Bank and I at Royal Bank. So ours is a friendship that has endured great competitive banking rivalry and has been informed by mutual respect. I know Subhas to be a decent, conscientious person, a wonderful family person. I will miss him in the Senate, but our friendship is such that endures. I wish him and his family all the best for the future.”

Drayton is now the most senior person on the Independent bench and is therefore expected to take over as co-ordinator of the bench, a position which Ramkhelawan had held.

Independent Senator Elton Prescott said he was “saddened” by Ramkhelawan’s departure. “But I suppose it was not unexpected,” he added.

People’s National Movement (PNM) Senator Faris Al Rawi said Ramkhelawan’s resignation from the Senate is certainly the honourable step in a society where resignations are most usually never seen or at best stand as a mask for dismissal.

“Mr Ramkhelawan served Trinidad and Tobago with distinction in the period I sat with him in the Senate. His contributions were erudite, measured and well-intended,” said Al Rawi.

“It is unfortunate that his departure is mired in an issue which has remained unventilated, in particular by the Government’s silence and a gag order in relation to the ramifications of the FCB IPO.”

He said he hopes for anxious scrutiny and transparency in the investigation into the transaction.

This is the first time an independent senator has resigned in this way.

Previously, Independent Senator Michael Annisette had been faced with conflict-of-interest allegations arising from his involvement on the UDeCOTT board, but he never resigned.