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Nominees to First Citizens board: Support for Smart choice
Former Attorney General Anthony Smart is a good choice for next chairman of the First Citizens Bank (FCB), Hugh Howard, president of the American Chamber of Commerce of T&T (Am Cham T&T) ,said yesterday.
“Mr Smart is a mature person. He is not someone who does not have experience. I think he has the capability to be able to steady that ship again. I would be very, very surprised if he disappoints,” Howard told the T&T Guardian. Finance Minister Larry Howai nominated Smart to be chairman of First Citizens, replacing Nyree Alfonso, who retired from the board at the bank’s annual general meeting on May 12.
Other nominees announced by Howai on Friday are Jean-Pierre du Coudray, T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce; Joel Pemberton, a chartered accountant and CEO of Trinity Exploration & Production Plc; Michelle Durham-Kissoon, deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance and the Economy; Courtenay Williams, attorney and senior partner, Pollonais and Blanc; and Hazar Hosein, CEO, Land Settlement Agency, Ministry of Land & Marine Affairs.
Howard said there are three criteria that should be used when selecting someone for a board.
“The person must have the capability and must be qualified to deal with issues that arise. That competence part of it, I do not think anyone has questioned regarding Smart. He is an attorney at law of long standing and I believe he will be comfortable to preside as chairman of the board. Secondly, you must have character. I have no problems when it comes to Smart’s character and this is very important in terms of appointing people to boards,” he said. Thirdly, said Howard, the individual must have commitment to country.
“There must be commitment to service of T&T rather than to any partisan group. Unless someone can come forward with evidence that says Mr Smart failed on any of the three criteria, I would say that he makes a good candidate and is a good choice,” he said.
Minority shareholder rights advocate Peter Permell said as far as he knows Smart is not an active politician and seems to be capable for the job. “I have always found him to be a straight shooter and from all appearances he has conducted himself with the requisite honesty, integrity and probity befitting of a minister of government and a Member of Parliament. In those circumstances, and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I would be challenged as a citizen and, moreso as a shareholder, not to accept his nomination as a director and the next chairman of the First Citizens board,” he said.
However, Permell said he was “perplexed” at the Government’s decision to nominate representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the T&T Manufacturers Association (TTMA) to represent the interests of the bank’s minority shareholders. “The more obvious and appropriate choices in my considered opinion should be the credit union movement and the union representing the interests of the bank’s employees,” he said. Daphne Bartlett, president of the San Fernando Business, said she welcomed Smart’s nomination. “He is an attorney, so he will bring the legal angle of the business transactions,” she said. Bartlett said it does not matter whoever becomes the chairman, once the person puts the interest of the citizens first. “We want good governance. Remember, this is not a privately-owned company, but it is owned by the people of T&T,” she said.