View Full Version : EDITORIAL - Straight talking needed from FCIB ..Trafigura

01-12-2007, 01:56 PM
EDITORIAL - Straight talking needed from FCIB
published: Friday | January 12, 2007

Former United States president Bill Clinton, in his ability to parse, might learn a thing or three from Jamaica's Milton Brady, or whoever fashions press statements for the CEO of FirstCaribbean International Bank (FCIB) (Jamaica) Ltd.

The problem, though, whether it is with Mr. Clinton or Mr. Brady, is that there is a certain indignity in these slick manoeuvrings, when greater confidence is likely be engendered by being frank and straightforward. We are afraid that by his wiggle Mr. Brady will have to build public trust.

Mr. Brady displayed his skill in the statement he issued on Tuesday concerning the bank's investigation of whether an employee had leaked confidential customer information, leading to what is now known as the Trafigura Scandal. This is the case in which the ruling People's National Party (PNP) ostensibly received a $31 million contribution from the Dutch commodity trader, Trafigura Beheer, with which the Government does business.

The money, however, was payable to an account that, on the face of it, was controlled by a regular business firm and on which the PNP's former general secretary and Cabinet Minister, Colin Campbell, and a handful of other PNP backers had signing rights. The account was originally set up to support Campbell's personal political ambitions, to protect contributors who usually do not wish information about their gifts to be generally available.

In this case, though, the contribution was by a foreign firm with which Jamaica does business and the matter was brought to public attention by the Opposition Leader, Bruce Golding. The PNP immediately accused a senior FCIB official of leaking the information, with a clear political motive.

The issue should perhaps place on the table the matter of legislation to protect persons who, in good conscience and good faith, leak private information about matters which they believe are illegal, especially where there is no other recourse. But the immediate issue here is to note that FirstCaribbean's first instinct is not for clear communication with its constituents, but for a kind of self-preservation.

The bank tells us that "the evidence has not confirmed that there was a release of confidential customer information, by any employee of FirstCaribbean International Bank, into the public domain."

Yet, it notes, but not as one of the marked findings of the investigation, "an officer of the bank procured confidential information on a customer account held at another bank."

It is not clear whether this officer used his or her leverage as an FCIB officer to gain the information, although something might be deduced by Mr. Brady's comment that the officer had broken internal codes and had been disciplined. The nature of the discipline we do not know.

We do not doubt, as Mr Brady says, that the evidence confirmed that FirstCaribbean "complied with the requirements under all applicable laws and regulations". Most people would not expect otherwise.

What they would expect, though, is some straight talking from the bank, rather than, as Jamaicans would say, cutting on both sides as a Spanish machete. That is normally the preserve of politicians.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: [email protected] or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.

01-12-2007, 02:00 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> cutting on both sides as a Spanish machete. That is normally the preserve of politicians. </div></div>

..and news editors too!!