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In the face of weeks of mounting public pressure, Independent Senator and chairman of the T&T Stock Exchange (TTSE) Subhas Ramkhelawan yesterday announced his resignation from both posts. Speaking at a press conference at the Kapok Hotel, Port-of-Spain, Ramkhelawan said he was resigning to preserve the integrity of the Senate and the TTSE, as he did not want them to become embroiled in legal matters stemming from the ongoing investigation into the First Citizens purchase and sale of shares by fired First Citizens chief risk officer, Philip Rahaman. Ramkhelawan is the founder of Bourse Securities which purchased the shares on behalf of Rahaman. "This morning at 10.15 am I submitted my resignation to His Excellency the President as an Independent senator in the Parliament. At 1 pm, I submitted my resignation as chairman of the TTSE," Ramkhelawan said.
His statement came hours after Attorney General Anand Ramlogan announced at the post-Cabinet media briefing that he had forwarded the IPO matter to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Commissioner of Police and the T&T Securities and Exchange Commission for further investigation. Ramkhelawan said, however, it was coincidence he was making his statement at that time. He said he was doing that "to ensure the office of senator does not find itself enmeshed" in legal matters. As far as the TTSE chairman's office was concerned, he said, it was "of critical importance that an office such as this should not find itself" in any legal matters. He said he consulted several persons before making his decision and was "fully confident that Bourse Securities will be fully vindicated when the facts are cleared up by the regulator."
Asked if he had any regrets and if he would have done anything differently, he said he did the job he was elected to do. He said he was also resigning to address any "perceived conflicts of interest" in his role as chairman of the TTSE. "I have no regrets,” he said, adding: "I worked hard." President Anthony Carmona subsequently acknowledged and accepted the resignation.
No replacement was named but the TTSE said its deputy chair would hold on until the annual shareholders’ meeting on May 8. Asked about his role as the broker for Rahaman, Ramkhelawan said Bourse's first obligation was to its client’s confidentiality. He said he would answer to the T&T Securities and Exchange Commission.
Asked about Imtiaz Rahaman's role as chairman of Bourse, he said Imtiaz, Phillip Rahaman’s cousin, had been a member of Bourse's board since its inception. He said the board would examine if there were any breaches by Rahaman and then decide on his future in the chair. He noted that Rahaman was duly elected to the post of chairman in December 2013 upon the passing of his predecessor. Asked about Bourse's commission on the deal, he said he would answer those questions to the TTSE. Ramkhelawan also said upon his vindication he intended to offer himself for public service again. With Ramkhelawan's departure, Senator Helen Drayton becomes the most senior independent Senate member.
Who is Ramkhelawan
Subhas Ramkhelawanis the founder and managing director of Bourse Securities Limited, one of six mutual fund providers in T&T. A licensed stockbroker, Ramkhelawan was appointed chairman of the TTSE last June and had been an Independent senator since 2007. He served as a commissioner of the Integrity Commission from 2001-2004 and in 2002 as a member of the Green Paper Committee appointed by Cabinet to review T&T’s financial sector.
Ramkhelawan has also been a director on several local and regional boards, including Republic Securities Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Republic Bank Limited (1993-1995); National Flour Mills (1994-1996); Prudent Venture Capital Co Ltd (1997-1999); Grace Kennedy Capital Services Limited, Cayman Islands (2002-2004) and Bourse International Asset Management Limited, St Kitts (2002- 2008);
He has BSc in management from the University of the West Indies (1979) as well an MBA with a concentration in finance from the University of Western Ontario, Canada (1983), in addition to specialist international training and extensive work experience in mutual fund structuring and management; securitisation, mergers and acquisitions, international capital markets and treasury management.