and called on the bank manager, Sir Edmund Lawrence and Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, to inform the general public as to the status of the indigenous institution.
The Opposition MP highlighted his concern in a response to a question, posed by a reporter about the long overdue Annual General Meeting, (AGM), and the publication of auditor’s report for the bank and its subsidiaries.
Richards indicated a number of reasons why shareholders and citizens should be concerned about the status of the institution. He also mentioned the fact that government had reduced their stake in the bank when they sold a number of shares recently, to assist in their financial problems, as highlighted in recent IMF reports.
“Shareholders in National Bank are locals, apart from the government. You have to bear in mind that not only have locals invested in National Bank in terms of their savings, but the majority of the Social Security’s monies are at National Bank. So not seeing any reports one has to wonder what is happening, because you need to see those particular financial reports so at least you can evaluate and analyze what is happening to the bank,” he said.
Mr. Richards highlighted the bank’s overdue annual meeting in June. The AGM was due in December 2009. Richards indicated then that auditors had refused to sign off on the institution’s accounts and thus created the extended delay in the convening of an AGM. The Bank’s delayed AGM also falls outside the ECCB bank supervision regulations, as to the time frame in which companies and institutions are required to hold AGMs and present audited reports to shareholders.
The Constituency #5 Representative expressed alarm that to date shareholders had not received their full dividends for 2009. He further called on bank General Manager, Sir Edmund Lawrence along with the Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, to give a transparent and factual account of the bank’s status Richards opined, “With speculation rife about the status of the National
Bank, its own payment policy in December 2009 is coming under intense scrutiny. For Christmas, the employees of National Bank, from Sir Edmund Lawrence himself, right down to the lowest paid, carried home the equivalent of three months’ salary in bonuses and holiday payments. This amounted to a significant expenditure on the part of the bank, while many shareholders are still waiting for their long overdue dividends.”
The PAM Deputy Political Leader further stated, “It is incumbent on both the manager of the bank, Sir Edmund Lawrence, and the Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Douglas, to immediately inform the public on the status of our National Bank. The shareholders are entitled to know the fate of their investments. The national economy is experiencing significant difficulty and the last thing anyone would like to contemplate is trouble in our largest indigenous bank,” Richards stated.
An IMF report released earlier this year and another more recent one on 3rd November, both lent credence to Richard’s pronouncements at the 1st Nov Press Conference, that any financial situation with National Bank has implications beyond the federation’s shores.
During Monday’s PAM press conference, Richards said any negative financial circumstance with National Bank, has far reaching implications beyond the shores of St. Kitts and Nevis. He referenced a 2009 IMF report, which he said spoke specifically to the status of SKNANB.
“The IMF had already indicated that if we do not look seriously at what it is we are doing in regards to National Bank, in regards to the government and social security, we could find ourselves in a very serious situation, because we don’t want to jeopardize the savings of persons at National Bank, and your pension and other benefits coming out of Social Security. So we need to ask specifically why we have not seen any report as yet for National Bank,” Richards said. The Last Annual General Meeting of the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank (SKNANB) was in March of 2009 which even then was 3 months overdue. The Institution has to date not convene an AGM for the 2009 fiscal year.
(Contributed Story Story-PAM)