|Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelewan|
There is a growing chorus calling on Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan to resign. The leader of the opposition, Keith Rowley, has suggested that if the senator fails to quit then President Carmona should fire him.
Under the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago the president appoints nine senators, who are considered independent of political parties. Only the president has the power to rescind their appointments.
Ramkhelawan is also the chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has called for his resignation from the TTSE. The anger directed at the senator is over the purchase of shares in First Citizens Bank by the bank's former Chief Risk Officer Phillip Rahman, valued at millions of dollars. Ramkhelawan is the managing director of Bourse Securities, which was the broker in the Rahaman transaction.
The SEC conducted an onsite inspection on TTSE with respect to the purchase and sale of the shares and submitted a report recommending Ramkhelewan be removed as TTSE chairman.
The Express newspaper quoted from the SEC report, which it said stated: “TTSE current chairman is not independent, which is not in accordance with principles and best practice. He is the principal of Bourse Securities Ltd, one of the TTSE member firms, and also has an interest in one of the listed securities on the exchange. In addition, he is also a politically exposed person, having served as an Independent senator and a past member of a joint select committee of the Parliament.”
The SEC noted: "The chairperson of the board should be a non-executive director and preferably an independent director. Where the chairman of the board is not an independent, non-executive director, the board should appoint a lead independent director...TTSE should seek to appoint an independent, non-executive director as chairman of the board or, alternatively, a lead independent director, in accordance with the principles of best practice.”
The newspaper reported that Ramkhelawan "had offered himself as chairman because the incumbent chairman, Ranjit Jeewan, did not want to be re-elected and TTSE had exhausted its options of independent directors to serve", citing an unnamed TTSE source.
The Express said it understands that TTSE is expected to hold an annual general meeting to select a new chairman this month.
The board of TTSE includes deputy chairman Peter Clarke, Ian Narine, Ray A Sumairsingh, Michael Phillip, Andrew Mc Eachrane, Terrence Chang, Donna-Marie Johnson, Ranjit Jeewan, Alvin Johnson and Godfrey Gosein.