– Christopher Ram
Eminent Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram, has lashed out at Chairman of the Board of Directors at the New Building Society, Dr Nanda Gopaul, calling his remarks a combination of unprofessionalism and misinformation.
According to Ram, during a recent interview with this newspaper, Dr Gopaul’s statements reek of a man drunk with power.
Ram first pointed out that a mandate from an Annual General Meeting is not a concession by any or all of the directors of an institution, “but he regards the acceptance of proposals by members at an AGM as a gift from him. That may be how Office of the President operates, but not a modern and responsible financial institution.”
Ram added also that relatedly, Dr Gopaul now deems members who raise critical issues concerning the governance at the NBS, as antagonistic and seeking to exercise clout and influence.
“I wonder if those accusations are perhaps not more appropriate to him than to any member of our group, many of whom have an unmatched record of service to the public.”
Ram also said that Dr Gopaul did not need to stoop to making wild innuendoes about what he did, as the then Board did to the Society, claiming possession of a plethora of evidence.
“Of course he does, that is what minutes are for, but what else? Let the Board give me permission to release the then minutes and I will do so for the public to see what we did. I will also publish at my expense the audit report on the financial statements of the Society for each year for which I was a director.”
Ram also said that he was daring Dr Gopaul to release the minutes of the meetings at which an, “$800 Million building contract for the NBS new Chief Office was manipulated to one of his friends.
“Dr Gopaul must know that I am not afraid of his innuendoes and wild threats and am prepared for any exchange with him not only on NBS but also on his stewardship of international funding by Oxfam of FITUG while he was the treasurer.”
Ram also said in reference to comments made by Dr Gopaul that the number of members NBS has cannot be assumed from the number of accounts it has, “one member may and sometimes has more than one account.”
He noted also that Financial institutions owe a duty of confidentiality to members concerning their accounts, a duty he breached.
“Incidentally, I hope the Bank of Guyana and his fellow directors are taking note of their Chairman’s unethical act.”
Ram was adamant that the New Building Society is not a commercial bank which allows withdrawals by cheques.
“A person does banking business with a bank, building society business with a building society.”
Dr Gopaul, in a recent interview with this newspaper had said that Ram, did not have the influence and clout that he spoke of at the Company’s Annual General Meeting.
Dr Gopaul at the time had said that it was he who allowed Ram’s views to be heard and that he asked him to prepare the terms of reference to repatriate the UK investment.
According to Dr Gopaul, Ram was creating a wrong perception, creating difficulties at the society. “When you want to work with people and you make an accommodation and allow them to make a contribution, they give the impression that they have scored a massive victory.”
Dr Gopaul was adamant that there were no victories on the part of any group and he insisted that he would not allow the group in any way to take NBS into disrepute, given that the society was doing a “wonderful job for people.”
He said that if one were to do a survey on who benefits from NBS, one would quickly realise that it was the poor and downtrodden.
“Far from it when Mr. Ram was on the Board, they were not looking after the poor, they were instead concentrating on Building Camp Street Avenue, the rich and the privileged people, they were an elite group not concerned with people.”
He said that in those years when Ram was on the Board a mere 200 loans were given out as against the thousands of loans that the company now gives out per year.
Dr Gopaul also chided Ram for the then repayment strategy adopted by the Board headed by Mr. Ram, pointing out that it has changed. “We do not go pouncing on people or moving to foreclose on their property, we work with people, we work with the poor to ensure that they get a home.”
The NBS Chairman was also adamant that NBS was not going to allow a minority group of about 15 persons out of 100,000 members to distract them.
He said that when Ram was on the board and someone could not show a pay slip, then that person could not get a loan but the current board was cognisant of the fact that some Guyanese do odd jobs but at the end of the day, they will repay their loan.
Dr Gopaul also stated that Ram has only made one deposit at the Bank which was just at the limit, allowing him to be eligible for directorship.
“I want to say that those who are making noise and talking about risk to the society, many of them are not depositors, they are borrowers of the society, if they are not happy with the way the society is operating they can withdraw their money.”
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