Wade: Who owns Govt?

Opposition Senator Wade Mark speaks yesterday during debate on the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2018. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB
Opposition Senator Wade Mark speaks yesterday during debate on the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2018. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB

OPPOSITION Senator Wade Mark called for a register of the interests of government ministers and for publicly-traded companies to be covered by a bill that exposes the true owners of companies, as the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2018 was debated yesterday (Tuesday.)

Mark told he Senate the bill was “Mickey Mouse legislation” that would not affect the country’s elites but fell short of the Government’s stated goals.

Touching on the shareholders of companies such as First Citizens Asset Management and RBC/RBTT Nominee Services Ltd and Massy, he said, “Who are these people? Let us lift the corporate veil to see who these people are.”

He urged senators to delete the clause that excludes publicly-traded companies from the bill, and so let the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) monitor them.

Describing the bill as “weak legislation,” Mark said, “I ask the Attorney General to deal with beneficial ownership in a broader sense, including politically-exposed persons.”

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi muttered across the floor that the bill already includes such individuals. Mark went on to allege that certain entities in TT manufacture shell companies by the hundreds which they then sell to their clients.

“Is that allowable in a society seeking transparency, accountability and good governance?” Mark questioned recent reports that a company, NCB Holdings, was seeking to buy a 62 per cent stake (worth $207 million) in Guardian Holdings by using money loaned to the former by the latter.

“What is the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) doing? Is this allowable?” Mark also urged the AG to reflect on the equivalent legislation in Jamaica, which also scrutinises trusts. “So why are you leaving out trusts in our legislation?”

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