Fresh evidence presented to the Integrity Commission has prompted it to reopen an investigation into People’s National Movement Chief Whip Marlene McDonald.
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Questions over spending by Securities Commission
The T&T Securities Exchange Commission (TTSEC), which has been in existence since 1996, has never brought a legal action over insider-trading. Questions were also raised as to the use of monies allocated to the TTSEC, especially when it came to leasing vehicles. TTSEC’s CEO Wainwright Iton and other members of management appeared before the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament yesterday to answer questions.
The issue of insider-trading was raised by Independent Senator Dhanayshar Mahabir, who asked how many prosecutions there had been for insider-trading over the last 18 years. Iton, in response, said: “The short answer is zero. There have been, I think, maybe three or four investigations but prosecutions in respect of insider-trading...it is not an easy exercise.” That prompted the committee’s chairman, Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert, to say: “So the answer is zero and zero.”
On TTSEC’s operating expenses, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said the figure was $24.8 million in 2008 and dropped in 2009 to $20.7 million and again dropped in 2010 to $20.6 million. “From 2010 onwards it moved and it jumped from $20.6 million to $31.4 million in 2013.
“So in the space of three years your operating expenses jumped by $10 million for a very small institution and I thought that increase in the operating expenditure had to do with the increase in investigations and the increase in the work you all are doing,” Ramlogan said.
Iton said the TTSEC did not have the authority to bring prosecutions on its own as it had to go through the office of the Director of the Public Prosecutions. The amount spent on the TTSEC’s eight vehicles was also questioned.
Mahabir said records showed in 2009 $547,000 was spent on vehicle maintenance, $427,000 in 2010, $512,000 in 2011 and in 2012, $790,000 was spent. Iton said that figure included the rental cost of the vehicles. “So you are really leasing vehicles and not acquiring them. On average, then, you are spending $100,000 a year to lease a vehicle. Is this good economics?” TTSEC’s management was also warned that the entire board must be present at the next committee meeting to be questioned.