Prime Minister Gaston Browne has taken his fight against the Chairman of the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB) a step further as he is now calling for his removal.
The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) government has accused the ECAB’s Chairman Craig Walter, of frustrating the administration by preventing them from retaining ordinary shares in the bank.
Browne said on the radio over the weekend that Walter is the “fly in the ointment” stalling the request.
“I think that the time has come for him to go. He is also missing in action. He is not providing direct leadership to the bank and we are getting a lot of complaints about the quality of the service. Craig Walter is not ready for Primetime and they need to remove him as the Chairman and possibly remove him as the director,” Browne asserted.
Browne wrote a letter to Walter recently about the matter, which he says is taking too long to be addressed.
He said the board had committed to allowing the government to increase its shares even while they were trying to acquire Scotiabank Antigua.
Browne told Observer, had that commitment not been given, the government would have encouraged the Antigua Commercial Bank (ACB) to buy out the Canadian bank instead.
ECAB is currently one of the largest indigenous banks on the twin island, and the government has 25 percent preferential ownership, which gives it the first claim on the distribution of profits but restricts it to voting only on resolutions that directly affect its rights.
It was a few years ago that the administration wrote to the board of directors asking to convert those shares to ordinary shares, which would allow the government to claim full voting rights in the decision-making process.
Together with ACB which owns 15 percent of ECAB, Antiguan and Barbudan shareholders will then account for 40 percent of shares and voting power in the institution thereby increasing domestic ownership.
There are plans to list ECAB on the Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange, thereby exposing it to a wider selection of investors and financing.
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