BWIA shareholders urge courts to help in dispute with SEC

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BWIA shareholders urge courts to help in dispute with SEC

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BWIA shareholders urge courts to help resolve dispute with SEC
Renuka Singh
Monday, August 10th 2009

Spokesperson for the BWIA Minority Shareholders Group, Peter Permell, wants the courts to finalise the current feud between the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the group.

Permell is urging the SEC to not interpret the 2005 Securities Industry (Take-Over) By-Laws as doing so will set a "dangerous precedent for the country".

He said the minority shareholders voted unanimously last week to take the SEC to court after the Commission cited the rules of the 2005 by-laws as the reason for it being unable to intervene in the matter between the Government of the Trinidad and Tobago and the minority shareholders. According to Permell, the SEC claimed that because BWIA was no longer a listed company on the stock exchange, the provisions of the SEC do not apply to the Government. But Permell said his lawyers wrote to the commission a second time seeking clarification

"We then received a rather terse reply from them asserting that they have already addressed the questions raised by our lawyers," Permell said.

"The by-laws of the land should not be open to interpretation by laymen," Permell said yesterday.

"What they are saying is potentially dangerous because it means that minority shareholders across the country have no recourse if a publicly listed company is de-listed and then goes under," Permell explained.

The resolution of this issue, he warned, would send shockwaves through the entire legal system.

On Friday the SEC stated that it was not their responsibility to help BWIA minority shareholders get what they have termed a "fair price" for their stock in the now defunct airline. Friday also marked the deadline date which the minority shareholders group gave the SEC to decide if they would get involved in the matter, which has seen the minority group asking for more from the Government than the ex-gratia offer of 20 cents per share.

Though Permell said the minority shareholders group will exhaust all other avenues first, he said they were fully prepared to take the issue to court if the SEC does not revise its current position.
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