Letter to the Editor: FCB IPO matter

#brightforspite #onlydemwenttoschool #takeweforfool

How I winced at the 2014 FCB IPO imbroglio in the media recently with the announcement of three Settlement Agreements of 20th December 2019 between the TTSEC and the four parties under investigation.  Those agreements required the parties to pay fines totalling $2.8M, about 22% of the total profit of about $12.7M created by the various manoeuvres. 

Those Settlement Agreements and Bourse’s statement of 3rd February 2020 confirmed no admission of wrongdoing, guilt or liability, so one is considering only alleged breaches.  Of course we have no idea as to the costs incurred by TTSEC in pursuing this matter over those six years and how those compare to the agreed fines.

The Managing Director of Bourse is Subhas Ramkhelewan, who was serving as Chairman of the T&T Stock Exchange and an Independent Senator at the time these allegations arose. The Chairman of the Bourse group is Ingrid Lashley, who is also the Chairman of National Enterprises Limited. Both Subhas and Ingrid have been my good friends over an extended period, not at all limited to our professional lives, which is why this is so, so what?

In an ideal world, the entire profit would have been disgorged together with the dividends earned during the period, before any penalties or regulator’s costs were applied, but that is not the situation at all.

I have three concerns –

  1. TTSEC’s no lessons learned? – It is disappointing to note that these Settlements with agreed payments, no admissions and no remedial action, seem to leave the investing public no better protected. Just imagine police officers stopping a motorist with defective headlights one night and issuing a standard ticket after engaging with the driver who really did not realise the problem with the vehicle. So far so good, you might say, but what would you think if those officers allowed that polite motorist to continue driving on the road with no headlights? The lack of any prescribed remedial action is intolerable in this situation;
  2. So why was a fine paid? – It is only barely possible to sustain the line set out in the Settlements with no admissions of wrongdoing or any finding of truth of the allegations, but the thorny question remains. The payment of a traffic ticket by an errant motorist is tantamount to an admission that some rule was broken which makes it necessary to pay that fine. It does not rise to the level of an actual conviction in law as recorded by the courts, but the fact is that the driver pays the fine is a tangible admission of wrongdoing. So are we being asked to believe that Bourse was just giving something back?;
  3. Has Bourse learnt anything? – Most striking for me is the penultimate sentence of the Bourse statement

    …This Agreement allows us to put this Matter behind us and to focus, even more so, on adding value to our clients and other stakeholders…

    Polite disdain is no road to progress. The opportunity was not taken to examine internal practices to prevent a recurrence of those concerns from our Regulator or to commit to staff training in the areas identified during our meetings with the Regulator. So will any of Bourse’s conduct or procedures be revised?

These three, taken together, taste terrible. Serious challenges require mature leadership which is willing to change course or seek advice as new perspectives and facts emerge. That is the behaviour of thinking, conscientious leaders.

Afra Raymond
afraraymond.net

An edited version of this was published in the Newsday of Tuesday 11th February 2020.

6 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor: FCB IPO matter

  1. In my opinion ,the four individuals probably knew that they could of gotten away with it and if they didn’t ,then the fine/penalty would be very affordable. (following the status quo of past and present government leaders.

  2. Afra, some names seem to appear in the most interesting places.

    Was Mr. Ramkhelewan not an influential Senator when the draconian Central Bank Amendment Act mysteriously cleared the Senate in the middle of the night with no record of proceedings? Was Bourse not one of the major firms to benefit in the bond transactions that were made possible by that unexpected change to the law?

  3. The above certainly confirms my postulations about secrecy. I am not exempt from making inhumane statements, gestures and in greater abundance, thoughts. I worry about them but because the remain as innocuous outbursts, they are relegated to imaginative postures and with one exception-now healed-do not endanger anyone else but me.
    Hearing about the reported rise-they were always copious-in domestic violence and child abuse and noting the absence of any real compensatory and permanent responses, compared with traffic demerits, by our various administrators, I must deduce that we are being grossly and consciously exploited by those who govern, those who trade and those who teach. These cover most educated adults who point fingers at others without caring about their complicity in the actions they (we) condemn. We know what to do.

  4. Afra,

    I am glad you made the time to write this excellent letter which I did not expect because of the reasons you gave me. I missed the Newsday publication on Tuesday and hope that Express and TG might yet publish if you also sent the letter to them.

    All the best, my friend. Victor.

  5. I wondered the same -re; the fines paid.If there be nothing untoward- wrong / liability why pay-eh?Why even make mention of that.Oh gawd an de size of the fines-ha hah-s.Then the timin’ boy days before Christmas- somebody laughing all de way to de bank still! Wallstreet / City of London aint got nothin on us-hah?

  6. Mr Raymond. Thanks for your persistence in exposing the wrong doings in this society. It seems that the government, Central Bank, the SEC etc are all in this coverup. People do not pay fines and penalties if they did not do anything wrong! The people who were involved did not loose any money on this fraudulant transaction. The government and the shareholders are the ones who are bearing the cost of this penalty. The Cabal in Trinidad is very strong and will always take advantage of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. What is amazing there is total silence from the opposition parties and transparency international and other NGOs. Is everyone asleep in TT? You are right the whole profit and a fee should have been the penalty. Where is the government in this country?

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