A letter from Scotiabank dated January 20, 2020, and addressed to Minister Michael Finnegan, the Area Representative for Mesopotamia came to our attention today. In the letter, Scotiabank is asking Finnegan to withdraw the monies he has in the account as the bank would no longer be able to service his account. According to the bank, they are going in accordance with the Financial Services Agreement. According to Finnegan, it’s not a big deal.
Hon. Michael Finnegan, Area Representative, Mesopotamia Division: “It is not my account, it is UDP Mesopotamia Account but they wrote to me, if you see the letter properly it marks UDP Mesopotamia not my account. My account is at HRCU, Belize Bank and Heritage Bank, there is where my accounts are and furthermore those who were cheering and clapping it was not an isolated issue. They have closed the accounts of UDP Queen Square, UDP Albert, UDP Port Loyola and many more UDP such and such and such so it’s not an isolated situation. What goes into UDP Mesopotamia account is the government community vote that is deposited into that account every month otherwise from that not one God other cent is put in that account and I could open that account so that you can see it personally that no other deposit but a government cheque for the community vote for UDP Mesopotamia. The bank said in their letter they are closing all the accounts because of their new policy. Their new policy is not to deal with any political party’s account and Mr.Arthurs called me and said that to me so I said back to him ‘You mean PUP and UDP if their accounts are in Scotiabank?’ what else can I say. So those who were hooraying and clapping that I was doing something wrong the’ll never see that you know how I relish my name.“
According to Scotiabank’s Services Agreement, it does state the conditions under which the bank would terminate an account. Among those conditions are the suspicions of illegalities or unlawful activities. Finnegan says the bank explained to him that it was merely based on a new policy regarding political accounts.
Hon. Michael Finnegan, Area Representative, Mesopotamia Division: “Them politicians weh thief darlin,you will not see their money in no account so when you said to let us see their account in fact in the first case the bank will not accept no cash deposit in no bank. You could never go to no bank in this country and deposit bundles of cash into the banking system they will ask you if you’re crazy – you will have to tell me where this money comes from. So all those lots of money that you’re talking about men having they must have that in some freezer or some big icebox or what do you call the thing where you have the key where you lock up documents in?
Reporter: A safe.
Hon. Michael Finnegan, Area Representative, Mesopotamia Division: “Or a safe.”
Reporter: Sir you said that the bank told you that it’s a new policy in terms of –
Hon. Michael Finnegan, Area Representative, Mesopotamia Division: “But that is what the letter said.”
Reporter: Because the letter refferes to the Public Financial Services Agreement and according to Scotiabank’s PFSA it says that they would terminate accounts based on any suspicion of any unlawfulness or illegalities.
Hon. Michael Finnegan, Area Representative, Mesopotamia Division: “No the letter did not say that. They will close the account in accordance with the financial regulations which give them sixty days to close it. Don’t misread what is in the letter. You understand me ? Don’t misread the letter ma’am the letter is there. They refer to the banking regulations and said that it gives you sixty days to close your account, not that the regulation says that you were doing anything wrong.”
Reporter: Have you opened an account somewhere else ?
Hon. Michael Finnegan, Area Representative, Mesopotamia Division: “I will try. But I don’t want to put it in my account because the money does not belong to me.”
Reporter: So then you haven’t closed it yet.
Hon. Michael Finnegan, Area Representative, Mesopotamia Division: “No I don’t see the urgency, I was told about this since about December. Arthurs called me about this from December but I didn’t see the urgency or the worryness about this.”
As we heard from Finnegan, other Area Representatives have received similar letters including those from Albert, Queen’s Square and Port Loyola. Minister Anthony Boots Martinez of Port Loyola told the media that he got his letter back in November 2019.
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Area Representative, Port Loyola: “Well I bank at Scotiabank both personally and constituency wise and I think I was one of the first ones that went. From November I was told that that account would be closed, November of last year.”
Reporter: Now, Mr.Finnegan says that in there he used to keep his community vote, was there any type of suspicious activity into your account that made them say ‘okay this is a high risk account and we have to close it down?’
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Area Representative, Port Loyola: “I don’t know about any high risk. I wish they had lots of thing in there [laugh] I don’t know about any high risk account. That account literally used to have five, fix thousand sometimes it was down to five dollars and change.”
Reporter: Did they give you a reason as to why they were doing it?
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Area Representative, Port Loyola: “They said it was an internal policy of the bank.”
Reporter: Is this an indication that the UDP is too hot to handle? That unu so hot that bwai you know what I release this account because your name hot and you might have the proceeds of money laundering because we know that’s what these banks are most afraid of.”
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Area Representative, Port Loyola: “Bwai I don’t know how you could launder three and four thousand dollars ever month and end up with five dollars and change. [Laughs] I know you’re searching but man be reasonable, you all are searching and I understand. The politics of it is up to scrutiny, the bank has its policies sir. I am from November before any people say they believed it’s triggered by the Auditor General’s report but I am from November of last year so I don’t know. They say it’s an internal policy, a matter of fact that even now Scotiabank is saying to me… I get offensive but it is what it is, that I need to come update my account.”
Reporter: Your personal account.
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Area Representative, Port Loyola: “Bring a job letter. You hear what I’m saying ? Bring a job letter of which they had one before and I’m sure I haven’t been fired as a minister of government yet because I had mortgage with them before so I may have to bring a job letter.”
Reporter: Whatever dirty deals are done, cheap or expensive, they are done for cash payments, nobody for whom you may perform a favor is writing a cheque.
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Area Representative, Port Loyola: “Well I don’t know about that sir. I don’t know about that , I can’t tell you about that. You give me anything sir?”
Reporter: I’m not asking about you I’m talking about the culture that a politician may receive-
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Area Representative, Port Loyola: “I don’t know sir. I don’t know about no culture. I don’t know sir, I don’t know. I don’t know.”
Reporter: Well I’m sure that convention on Sunday which I estimate at half a million dollars spent on convention day, I’m sure no cheques were given.
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Area Representative, Port Loyola: “Well you have to ask the candidates sir. I didn’t run for anything at all sir. I’m sure that I look forward to my pay every month.”
Reporter: Weren’t you given any money for your constituency to bring out to the convention ?
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Area Representative, Port Loyola: “Well I didn’t know because you didn’t bring it our for me Renee. If you had brought it for me I would have got it.”
Minister Finnegan stressed to Love News earlier today that he takes pride in his name and reputation and that this issue with the bank does not have anything to do with any funny business on his part or that of his constituency. Finnegan is looking to retire from politics later this year after serving for 27 years. He will be succeeded in Mesopotamia by his nephew, Shyne Barrow.