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Shareholder rights advocate predicts: Mother of all AGMs for First Citizens
Minority shareholder rights advocate Peter Permell is trying to get support for a We-Put-You-Last-IPO protest campaign ahead of First Citizens’ annual general meeting on Monday. The meeting is scheduled for 10 am at the Lord Kitchener Auditorium, NAPA, Port-of-Spain. In newspaper advertisements published over the past few days, Permell is seeking support from the bank’s shareholders for his campaign. He is lobbying for the removal of the current board of directors and is asking the shareholders to confirm their attendance at the AGM, which he describes as “a must attend event”. “Thus far the response has been overwhelming and the way things are progressing this is likely to be the mother of all AGMs,” he said
Permell told the T&T Guardian the purpose of the campaign is to “highlight our displeasure as First Citizens shareholders with the fact that our board of directors contrary to their much-touted tagline, We put you first, has, in fact, put us last in the recent IPO”.
“Having witnessed the awesome power and impact of satire on the very popular prime time show Saturday Night Live, we decided on the spoof/parody We-put-you-last-IPO,” he said.
Permell said the AGM should should focus on the IPO issue rather than any other matters. “We cannot emphasise enough that this annual meeting of shareholders is the only forum that provides shareholders, once per year, with a real opportunity to formally express our concerns, ask probing, inconvenient questions and demand satisfactory answers from the board,” he said.
Permell said the shareholders plan to seek clarification on several issues, including the monthly fees paid to First Citizens directors, considering that they hold multiple directorships with several of the bank’s subsidiaries. He also plans to ask: “Why would Ms Nyree Alfonso, a practising attorney-at-law, state categorically that as the chairman of the group and as a lawyer she saw nothing out of the ordinary in Mr Rahaman’s purchasing $14.5 million shares in an IPO, and that there were no breaches of any regulations, policies or procedures, when she had conducted no audit or investigation of her own and, more importantly, her line minister had only hours before expressed serious concerns and ordered a forensic audit?
“Why wasn’t the purchase of the 659,588 shares by the former chief risk officer picked up by the corporate secretary Sharon Christopher (who incidentally was the IPO Steering Committee chairman and board member) at the time of preparation, finalisation and approval of the company’s shareholder register, necessary prerequisites that would have had to be satisfied by FCB prior to listing on the T&T Stock Exchange on September 16, 2013?” Permell said the shareholders also want to find out why, even after Finance Minister Larry Howai ordered a forensic audit of the purchase, the bank’s corporate secretary didn’t immediately say that Rahaman had already sold the majority of his shares. He said this was one of the major concerns of the public at the time. Another question to be raised is why it took until March 12 for the multi-million dollar share sale to be made public.