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Tuesday, September 26 2017 @ 06:57 AM AST

What it would take to buy Republic Bank

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, responding to Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge, late in the Senate last night (after 2:00 am on May 16, 2017), said it is not true that London-based HSBC bank is coming to Trinidad & Tobago to attempt to buy Republic Bank.

He said: "The reason why it is impossible is that one must understand the shareholding of Republic Bank. 25 per cent of Republic Bank is held by the Clico Trust Coporation, which is the collateral for the Clico Investment Fund (CIF), which trades on the stock exchange, which is the units given to policyholders who sold their policies for years 11-20, instead of receiving cash, the policyholders received units in the CIF, the bulk of which was financed by Republic Bank shares, so in order to sell these Republic Bank shares, one would somehow have to pay all of these unit-holders somewhere in the vicinity of about $10 billion and we would have to find that money in order to clear off all these units and monetise all these units, which are currently trading on the stock exchange.

"In addition, Clico Investment Bank, which is in the hands of a liquidator, namely the Deposit Insurance Coporation is not permitted to dispose of the 18% of Republic Bank that is held by Clico Investment Bank because there is a dispute as to the ownership of these shares, which has to be settled by the court.

"And then Clico itself owns 7% of Republic Bank. Again, the ownership of these shares are tied up in a counter claim coming from Clico Investment Bank.

"So the only entity that could sell any part of Republic Bank is CL Financial, which is not the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. That is owned by the Duprey family and other shareholders of CL Financial. These are not members of the government."

* "The instructions given to the Central Bank, which by the way, are covered by the Exchange Control Act and not the Financial Institutions Act, in managing the foreign exchange regime in Trinidad and Tobago, the Exchange Control Act gave the power to the minister of finance to give special or general directions to the Central Bank with respect to the policy in managing foreign exchange in Trinidad and Tobago and that is a 20-year-old provision in the Exchange Control Act. It's over 20 years old because we liberalised our currency in and around 1993-1994 and when we did that, we amended the Exchange Control Act, which previously would have given the Central Bank the power to control the distribution of foreign exchange and most of the provisions with respect to exchange control were repealed and removed from the Exchange Control Act and the one provision that was left was to give the minister of finance the authority to give special or general directions to the Central Bank in the management of the foreign exchange regime in Trinidad and Tobago, and in pursuit of this authority, since then to now, and I've been able to find records going back 10 years, and the Central Bank is searching for me and they say they can go back to the 1990s, the Central Bank has, whenever it injects foreign exchange into the system told the commercial banks to give priority to trade or manufacturing. This has been going on for 10 years. It has not dropped from the sky.

* Govt subsidises the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) by about $1 billion per year, sometimes $2 billion per year

* Walkover at Sea Lots to cost $10 million. Asked how Govt arrived at that figure the Works Minister said the walkover at the Divali Nagar, which is 75% of the Sea Lots walkover, cost $9 million, and the figure could be pro-rated.

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