On the heels of the departure of First Citizens Group chief risk officer Philip Rahaman, the Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union (BIGWU) believes the company’s chair, Nyree Alfonso, should also exit the bank.
President of BIGWU Vincent Cabrera believes Alfonso’s public defence of Rahaman before an audit was completed was grounds enough for her dismissal from her chairmanship position.
In a statement yesterday, BIGWU condemned comments made by Alfonso that the union was to blame for the undersubscribed bucket of employee shares which enabled Rahaman to purchase the large number of bank shares. “Attempts made by the bank’s chairman to blame BIGWU for the maverick move by this high-ranking official is indecent, unsustainable and laughable to say the least,” it said.
“This matter has revealed not only a breakdown of corporate governance by the bank but also a systematic breakdown of securities exchange governance in Trinidad and Tobago,” it said.
The union said it remains concerned about the lack of serious and effective securities exchange legislation and blamed past governments for the weakness in the system.
“The BIGWU is calling for the immediate removal from office of the current chair of First Citizens Bank since she has defended the actions of this high-ranking official. She has shown a total disrespect for ethics and morality in the handling of public affairs,” it said.
BIGWU said the transaction has left several unanswered questions including:
• Did the executive management know that a significant number of shares were not taken up by the workers of the bank before they applied for purchase of these shares?
• What is the source of funds of the money used to purchase these shares?
• If the money was borrowed, did this official declare this as is required by the bank’s policy?
• When did the board of directors become aware of the purchase?