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Should Nyree Alfonso stay in the First Citizens chair?

Thursday, March 20, 2014
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Nyree Alfonso,Chairman of First Citzens Bank

Twenty-one years ago, in October 1993, the first major story that I reported for the Guardian was the explosion aboard the Norwegian oil tanker, the Oslo Lady, at a Chaguaramas dry-docking facility in which five locals were killed.


One of the people who was instrumental in guiding me, a young and green journalist at the time, through the reporting of the aftermath of the explosion was Nyree Alfonso, who was one of the first attorneys in this country to earn a postgraduate diploma in maritime law and who would herself have been a young (if not green) attorney at the time. 


I remain grateful for the time she took explaining the intricacies of maritime law and therefore it pains me to have to criticise statements she has made, as the chair of First Citizens, with regard to the purchase of 659,588 shares in the bank’s July 2013 First Citizens IPO and the subsequent sale of 634,588 shares on January 14.


It seems to me that when Ms Alfonso said that Phillip Rahaman did nothing legally wrong—which she told me in an interview last month and which she repeated in an Express interview last week—she was assuming that:


 All of the $14.5 million that he used to purchase the 659,588 shares in the First Citizens IPO came from his own resources—either his own cash resources or cash plus a loan from one of the country’s commercial banks


In other words, the chair of the bank is assuming that Mr Rahaman did not submit a multiple application. On the issue of multiple applications, the prospectus states: “Only one application may be made for the benefit of any person or institution. Any application which breaches these rules is a multiple application. Multiple applications and suspected multiple applications may be rejected at the discretion of the issuer.”


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