Tuesday, January 16, 2018

She knew she didn’t have our support

Howai on former First Citizens chairman:

Former First Citizens chairman Nyree Alfonso was informed that the Corporation Sole, the main shareholder, did not intend to support her and three other members for re-election to the First Citizens board, Minister of Finance Larry Howai said yesterday.

He was responding to questions at the post-Cabinet news conference.

Asked at what point the Corporation Sole decided it was not going to support the four board members, Howai said, “I suppose when we had all the information available...in order to make a final decision. There had to be some deliberation on the matter, so it was after we were in possession of all the information and had an opportunity to consider the matter properly.”

Asked whether this happened before Monday’s annual general meeting, he said: “Oh yes.”

Asked why then weren’t the members informed so they could have stepped aside before the annual general meeting, Howai replied: “It was communicated to the members beforehand, or at least to the chairman, I should say. But the notice would have gone out already because the notice needs to go several weeks before the AGM. The notice would have been already in hand and you cannot change the agenda or the names (proposed for re-election) after the notice has actually gone out.”

And asked why the Corporation Sole took the decision it did, since the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) report pointed to no misconduct on the part of the board, Howai said, “I don’t want to go into all the details publicly. But the ministry, on the basis of its full evaluation of the matter, came to the conclusion on the particular action, taking into consideration all the information that we had at hand, inclusive of the PWC report, but there were other issues.”

Asked whether the PWC report would be tabled and discussed in Parliament, he said he had given the Attorney General a copy of the report for his advice on how to proceed.

“So I am awaiting his advice,” he said, adding that he could not give a definitive answer at this time.

Asked whether there was a flaw in the IPO (initial public offering), Howai said Government used the same model it did for National Enterprises Ltd.

He noted that model did not have limits on how many shares a member of staff could purchase.

“So that was an issue which came out (of this IPO), that perhaps in future we need to determine how we deal with that particular matter. I am advised that putting limits (on the sale of shares) is not a good public policy approach; that perhaps there could be a request for judicial review of a decision like that.  So we are going to have to structure it in such a way  that we can avoid that particular problem and I think we have come up with a solution which perhaps can work,” Howai said.

On the issue of the new board members, Howai said Government was still in the process of identifying replacements.

He noted Government had asked the T&T Manufacturers Association and the chamber to each name a person to the board.

Howai said the shareholders had to give 21 days’ notice of the new members. He said the existing board does have a quorum and the deputy chairman would chair any meeting in the interim.

He said there would be an extraordinary meeting on June 10 or 12.