FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert dismissed a question from the Opposition UNC which called on him to provide members of the House of Representatives with a list of the ten largest recipients of foreign exchange between for October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022.
Imbert said, "This is a surprising question."
He reminded MPs, "It is a matter of record that the public disclosure by a former governor of the Central Bank in 2015 of the names of the largest recipients of foreign exchange at that time was in contravention of Section 76 of the Central Bank Act and Section 44 of the Exchange Control Act."
That disclosure, Imbert continued, "created a public conflagration.
"The fact that this was an egregious breach of banking confidentiality has been missed by many commentators recently. This is information within the bosom of the Central Bank."
The bank and other financial institutions are forbidden under the law to disclose such information without the consent of the parties involved.
Imbert said such disclosure "will destroy the confidence which clients have in the Central Bank and financial insitutions that their private banking information would not be disclosed without their consent."
Regardless of circumstances, unlawful disclosure of private banking information could never be in the public interest.
Government MPs thumped their desks as Imbert said, "It would be irrational, unlawful, irresponsible and an abuse of power for me as Minister of Finance to engage in such a breach of trust, and I have no intention of ever doing so.
Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee reiterated the UNC's call for Imbert to disclose the information.
"Is the Minister telling this House that he is not going to provide the list of the ten largest foreign-exchange users of Trinidad and Tobago?"
Imbert stood his ground.
"That is private banking information. To disclose that would be a breach of the law. I have no intention of doing so. Others may wish to do it. I will not."