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On February 14, Finance Minister Larry Howai issued a statement in which he said his ministry had requested a detailed audit of the distribution of shares in the First Citizens initial public offering (IPO).
The minister directed that this audit be undertaken, he said, because of questions that had been raised in the public surrounding the fact that a senior executive of the bank had purchased 659,588 First Citizens shares for $14.5 million.
According to Mr Howai’s statement: “The Government’s public policy position on share ownership in privatisations remains clear and transparent. The intention is that there should be the widest possible distribution among the national community. This is achieved through a well established allocation formula.”
The information about the $14.5 million acquisition by the senior officer was published in the bank’s 2013 annual report, its first as a publicly-listed company. All listed companies are required by law to list the shareholdings of their senior officers and directors in their own companies. There is a requirement that these listed companies must also disclose publicly when their senior officers and directors trade in the shares of the companies for which they work. (See sidebar)