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Permell: Victory for shareholders

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Minority shareholder rights advocate Peter Permell yesterday declared victory on behalf of the minority shareholders in the wake of the departure of three directors and the chair of First Citizens. “The Corporation Sole would not have voted in the way that he did if it had not been for the weeks of pressure that we, the minority shareholders, have brought to bear on the Minister of Finance and the board of directors. I think this is really a culmination of all those activities that we took,” Permell said. Permell was speaking after the annual meeting of First Citizens at the National Academy For the Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain.

He also commended the Corporation Sole. “This is one occasion that I cannot say it’s a misstep,” he said. “They have acted prudently. They have acted in the best interest of the shareholders and the citizens of T&T. You have to remember that the Corporation Sole owns 80 per cent of First Citizens bank, for and on behalf of the citizens of T&T. “Therefore it would have been untenable for him to come here, and vote those shares against the minority shareholders. It would have a vote against the people of T&T.”  President of the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union, Vincent Cabrera, also said he was pleased with the departure of the four board members. In late March, Cabrera had called for Alfonso’s departure from the bank after he alleged she came to the defence of the bank’s former group chief risk officer Philip Rahaman for the purchase of 659,588 shares.

Yesterday, Cabrera said even before the matter concerning the sale of shares was raised, the union had called for Alfonso to go as a result of non-settlement of wage negotiations. “We are hoping that the new chairperson, whoever that person may be, would quickly meet with the union as soon as they come into office and seek to settle the outstanding negotiations so the workers can get back to work and seek to make the bank a success.” An extra-ordinary meeting is to be held in the next 30 days and new directors are to be appointed then. Asked whether this would strengthen the bank, Cabrera said: “It depends on the choices the State makes in such a situation and it certainly should be very careful as to whom they appoint to office.” Asked whether he wanted a member of the trade union movement to be appointed he said: “That is an entirely other issue. I don’t want to comment further on that.”