The Guyana Securities Council (GSC) has confirmed that it is probing the circumstances under which a former executive from Trinidad and Tobago has been appointed as new chief of the Guyana Bank For Trade and Industry.
Larry Nath resigned from Trinidad’s First Citizen Bank in late 2014 amid a major investigation involving insider’s trading. Several other persons were sacked and the entire board of that state-owned bank resigned as a result.
The accusation was that Nath allegedly acquired shares in the state-owned bank which was going public. As a result, he and other executives made millions of dollars.
He was reportedly appointed by GBTI as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) a few weeks ago.
However, there has been no official announcement.
Nath appeared in the news recently during a number of donations by the bank.
His appointment was supposed to have been green-lighted by the Central Bank and other vetting agencies, which under regulations, have to be aware of the executives who have been appointed.
In the case of Central Bank and GSC, Nath has to withstand tough scrutiny as to whether he is “fit and proper”.
In fact, Kaieteur News was told, regulators like GSC have little booklets of the “Fit and Proper” criteria that GBTI or any financial institutions that are being monitored have to complete when new executives and board members are being appointed.
Legal counsel for GSC, Shawn Allicock, confirmed that a matter of the appointment has been raised with entity.
“I can confirm to you that we are looking at the matter and that is all we can say at the moment,” the lawyer said.
Contact could not immediately be made with Governor of Central Bank, Dr. Gobind Ganga. However, the matter is reportedly engaging the attention of that regulator.
Trinidad’s news was filled with the First Citizens Bank’s scandal in 2014.
The Trinidad Express, on December 4, 2014, reported that Nath, First Citizens’ CEO, resigned from the company with immediate effect.
The Trinidad Guardian reported that First Citizens shares went on the market in the leadup to 2014 with Nath acquiring 215,000 of the bank’s shares for TT$4.7 million.
As at December 2014 trading price, those shares were worth TT$7.9 million.
“Among the senior executives and directors of First Citizens, Nath’s purchase of shares in the IPO was eclipsed only by the group’s former chief risk officer, Phillip Rahaman, who acquired 659,588 shares. Rahaman’s purchase of the shares for over TT$14 million generated a huge controversy in the first half of 2014 over how he financed the acquisition and whether he bought the shares for himself or some relatives,” the Guardian reported.
One month into the controversy, the board dismissed Rahaman, saying it had “lost confidence” in his ability to carry out his duties following an extensive internal investigation.
All the First Citizens directors who served during the IPO have been replaced, most notably the bank’s chair, Port-of-Spain attorney Nyree Alfonso, who resigned just before the June 17, 2014 special meeting.
The transaction was labeled as insiders’ trading, highly illegal in certain territory.
The subsequent investigation had recommended disciplinary action be taken against Nath, deputy chief executive and corporate secretary, Sharon Christopher, and head of the legal department, Lindi Ballah-Tull.
The matter in December 2014 was still the subject of two investigations—one by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Trinidad and Tobago Police.
GBTI was rocked by a major fraud over the last year that saw its Bartica, Region Seven, manager sent home and gold dealer, Saddiqui Rasul charged after over $900M that was paid out to cheques there were not cleared. The fraud had dented GBTI’s profits.
The bank is also clashing with, and is in court with the police’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) over the release of information regarding investigations involving the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
With regards to GRDB, it is said to be the biggest fraud under investigation, involving over US$500M.
A few weeks ago, GBTI’s board members were criminally charged with alleged contempt of the court for those records.
Last week, the bank was granted court orders blocking SOCU from accessing information regarding transactions of the Cricket World Cup.
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