Four days after two of its five directors voted to remove Peter Permell as Chairman of Trinidad Aggregate Products (TAP) and Richard Saunders as Deputy Chairman, TAP's lawyers are on Friday expected to file legal action in the High Court, Port-of-Spain.
Permell confirmed this during an interview with Newsday this evening, in which he added that the August 14 vote "was an unlawful attempt to remove us from the board."
"I am still the chairman and Mr Saunders is still the deputy. What happened on Monday was that the Managing Director (MD), Carmen Reid and another director, Terrence Boswell Inniss, attempted to unlawfully remove us. We sought legal advice of the company's lawyers; LEX Caribbean, immediately after they sent us an email indicating we had been removed. Based on the advice we've been given, we are still the chairman and deputy chairman of TAP."
According to Permell, the MD and Boswell Inniss "don't have a legal leg to stand on because they didn't follow proper procedure as stated in Section 76 of the Companies Act."
"They have now locked us out of the compound. We found that out this morning, when myself, Mr Saunders and another TAP Director, Professor Stephan Gift, tried to enter the compound. All of this will be sorted out once the High Court rules on the matter."
Permell added that the company's lawyers expect that the matter will be dealt with expeditiously, "all things being equal."
In the hours prior to their being barred from entering TAP, Permell, Saunders and Gift held what Permell described as "a board meeting", during which they voted to "terminate the contract of the MD". Asked why they did this, Permell replied, "People are usually removed from office because of their performance."
Permell then took the opportunity to assure TAP employees that he, Saunders and Gift are seeking the best interests of "employees, shareholders and all stakeholders."
"TAP received an expression of interest letter from a company; dated May 24, 2017. TAP is only one of two local companies that manufactures clay blocks. As directors, we (Permell, Saunders and Gift) have a fiduciary responsibility to seek the best of the employees and the shareholders. The two other directors may want to sell TAP but not us. I have no shares, so I don't benefit from a sale of the company, depending on what deal they are able to negotiate."
Permell's statement was in response to Newsday's question about job security fears; expressed to this newspaper by TAP employees who witnessed what one described as "Mr Permell's vocal attempts this morning to convince security to let them (Permell, Saunders and Gift) onto the compound."
That employee's account of events which transpired this week are in stark contrast to what Permell told Newsday. The employee, who asked that her name not be her identity not be revealed, said she and many others at TAP "are very concerned about job security if these three men gain control of the company and sell it."
She added that some employees were under the impression that Permell "was removed because the other directors felt he had become an ineffective Chairman. They had lost confidence in him and he was investing most of his time (speaking out) about the CL Financial issue rather than concentrating on ensuring the profitability of TAP."
Contacted by Newsday, TAP's MD declined to comment on the allegations made by one of her employees. While she also declined to say why they were voted out of office, Reid did say Permell and Saunders were removed "because the shareholders believe their replacements would be better able to carry out the duties of chairman and deputy chairman."
The one thing Permell and Reid had in common today was that they both sought to assure customers, staff and shareholders that it would be "business as usual" at TAP.