Karen Darbasie says the conclusion of the case shows the regulatory systems are working

The Group CEO of First Citizens Bank, Karen Darbasie has indicated that compliance systems in the securities market in T&T are functioning effectively.

This comes after reports that Subhas Ramkhelawan and his company, Bourse Securities, agreed to pay $1.3 million to the T&T Securities and Exchange Commission (TTSEC) for its contravening role in the First Citizens Initial Public Offering (IPO).

In an interview with Darbasie, the bank CEO told Guardian Media that she thinks the notice is ”an indication that the regulation of the markets is working”.

She said: “In my view it probably took a little long to get to this stage. This transaction took place in 2014—before I joined the bank—and to be frank, we are happy to see the investigation come to a conclusion and the regulator determine what the appropriate action was and take that appropriate action.”

Ramkhelawan, the former chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE), Bourse Securities, the broker for the transaction, were involved in the purchase by dismissed chief risk officer of First Citizens (Hassan Philip Rahaman), of 659,588 FIRST shares and the disposal of 634,588 of those shares four months later.

Darbasie said: “From a bank perspective, even before I joined in 2015, the board had taken its own action at that point in time.”

She continued by noting that since she joined First Citizens, the company has reviewed its policies and procedures with respect to trading in local securities and trading securities ”across the board.”

Darbasie said: “Those were strengthened within months of my joining the organization.”

The bank’s CEO also said that since the period after her welcome to the bank, the bank has issued public offerings to the public without any problems.

According to Darbasie: “We’ve been through several other issues since then, including the additional public offering of the shares of First Citizens, as well as public offerings of shares and bonds of other institutions that have been dealt with seamlessly, without issue and successfully.”

She continued: “From our side, the regulatory report took a while but it has come to a conclusion and as a bank we have moved on—we moved on a while ago and we continue to progress with the business of banking.”

Darbasie didn’t want to comment on the efficiency of the TTSEC because the report was not under the purview of the bank.

She said: “It was a report and an investigation that was done by the regulator. They, of course, needed to ensure that they got to a level of detail and understanding before they took an action, and we trust in our regulatory environment to protect the wider investor public of T&T.”

Story by KYRON REGIS ([email protected])