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 –
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;
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?;
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 was a speaker at the 2019 Annual Conference of the Human Resource Management Association of T&T (HRMATT) on Thursday 31st October 2019 at Hyatt Regency. His topic was “Whistleblower lessons – from Gene Miles to 21st Century Management Styles.”
Programe Length: 00:48: 39 Programe Date: 31 October 2019
Afra Raymond talks about corruption with host Keenan Munro on his show ‘People About Nation’. Using examples from the research Afra has done, the conversation delves into the pattern of corrupt practices in the nation from CL Financial bailout to other local issue. Video courtesy Synergy TV
Programme Date: 9 May 2019 Programme Length: 00:44:11
This is my interview with Abby Martin, a journalist working on behalf of the [Peter] Allard Prize Foundation, on the scope of my work with a focus on my anti-corruption work. Ms. Martin compiles videos with select nominees for the Allard Prize for International Integrity, of which I am one.
The anti-corruption discourse in our country usually rationalises the failure or refusal to prosecute any important persons for corrupt acts as being a result of our small size. After all, everyone has a friend who will see for them. Those friends will warn them, lie for them, forget for them or even lose a file or two for them. We have all had these frustrating discussions and wondered if we can ever muster the will or the wits to lock-up the important people who regularly commit acts of grand corruption.
When one considers the global news on this anti-corruption struggle, it is clear that in some substantial way the tide has turned. In a variety of countries, the citizens have become so outraged at the damage that large-scale corruption has done to their societies that the authorities there have now started to take decisive action against this scourge. It all makes me wonder when is the Caribbean going to catch-up with the rest of the world in punishing these destructive acts. Continue reading “Does Size really Matter?”→
This is my interview on 99.5FM on The Breakfast Roundtable on Sky 99.5 FM on Tuesday 12th December 2017, with Jessie-May Ventour, Dr. Wayne Heywood and Edison Carr to discuss the implementation of the Public Procurement & Disposal of Public Property Act and other topics relating to corruption in T&T being at serious levels now. Audio courtesy Sky 99.5 FM
Programme Date: 12 december 2017 Programme Length: 00:43:44
My focus has been on grand corruption, the large-scale acts of fraud which endanger the very stability and rationale of our society and its key institutions. No act of grand corruption is possible in isolation. The only way to steal these large amount of money is to have the collaboration of responsible officials and professionals, who either look the other way or actively assist in the looting.
That was the case in Eden Gardens and the other episodes covered thus far. None of these acts of grand corruption would have been possible without the intentional help of professionals such as attorneys, engineers, accountants or even surveyors. Our current private and public sector systems rely on the professional standards and ethics of those professionals to ensure value for money. Continue reading “The Ethics Gap – part four”→