PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday March 26, 2014, CMC – The Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union (BIGWU) has called for the removal of the chair of the state-owned First Citizens bank, Nyree Alfonso, after the financial institution confirmed it had parted ways with the group chief risk officer Philip Rahaman.
The bank said it had lost confidence in Rahaman’s ability to carry out his duties.
Alfonso had publicly defended the dismissed bank official, who was fired Tuesday following an internal audit by the bank on his purchase of 659,588 bank shares during its Initial Public Offering (IPO), and the subsequent sale of 634,588 of those shares four months later.
BIGWU president Vincent Cabrera said Alfonso’s public defence of Rahaman before an audit was completed was grounds enough for her dismissal from her chairmanship position.
In a statement BIGWU condemned comments made by Alfonso that the union was to blame for the undersubscribed bucket of employee shares which enabled Rahaman to purchase the large number of bank shares.
“Attempts made by the bank’s chairman to blame BIGWU for the maverick move by this high-ranking official is indecent, unsustainable and laughable to say the least,” it said.
“The BIGWU is calling for the immediate removal from office of the current chair of First Citizens Bank since she has defended the actions of this high-ranking official. She has shown a total disrespect for ethics and morality in the handling of public affairs,” it said.
But in a brief statement on Tuesday night, First Citizens said “as a result of an extensive internal investigation carried out by First Citizens Bank, the chairperson and the board of directors reached a determination that they have lost confidence in its chief risk officer’s ability to carry out his duties.
“Consequently, he has been dismissed from his position. First Citizens Bank is committed to maintaining the trust of the public and providing appropriate updates to its stakeholders. However, given the other ongoing investigations, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time,” it said.
Rahaman spent TT$14 million (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) to acquire the shares and is reported to have made a TT$12 million profit when they were sold.
The matter is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) on behalf of the Ministry of Finance.
Finance Minister Larry Howai confirmed he was “advised” of Rahaman’s demitting office but “ notes that the various investigations will continue to determine whether other and further actions need to be taken.”
Howai said Cabinet is expected to apprised of the PWC when it meets on Thursday.