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Will Scotiabank be leaving our shores soon?

A few weeks ago when we reported on the possible sale of Scotiabank in Belize, the bank’s administration fired off a release saying they will not comment on rumors and they did not inform their staff of any intention to sell off the bank’s assets, which is what we had reported.  A few day’s later, the Central Bank of Belize issued a release saying that they are unaware of any such intention or ongoing negotiations being conducted by Scotiabank since the laws require that such a move be reported to the Central Bank of Belize.  Tonight, we ask the question, ‘could it be that Scotiabank is not abiding by the laws to report their intention to sell?’  The question comes on the heels of an article published on Caribbean News Now and penned by Sir Ronald Sanders, the Ambassador to Washington for  Antigua and Barbuda.  According to Ambassador Sanders, there is currently a standoff between his Government and Scotiabank as their desire to sell off the bank’s assets to the Republic Financial Holdings has not been expressed to the Government.  The article went on to note, quote, “Scotiabank’s decision not to discuss the sale of its holdings in nine Caribbean jurisdictions with the governments concerned, in advance of concluding an agreement, was extraordinary, particularly as, in Canada no bank or bank branch can carry on business without obtaining approval of the finance minister and the office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.  The bank appears to believe that it could contravene in the Caribbean what it would be obliged to obey in Canada.” The article went on to state, quote, “Equally disdainful behaviour by Scotiabank was the way in which it informed the nine Caribbean jurisdications that it had settled the sale arrangement.  That information came through a public announcement, issued to the media, on November 27, 2018.  Governments of the nine jurisdictions and their Central Banks, the regulatory bodies for banking, learned of the sale arrangement simultaneously with the general public.”  End of quote.  As we noted, Scotiabank Belize has not confirmed or denied their intention or desire to sell.  There is a more crucial aspect to this story, however, and that has to do with the Correspondent Banking Relations.  Scotiabank reportedly carries the advantage in banking since it is the only bank that provides its own correspondent banking relations due to its headquarters in Canada.  Correspondent banking is a challenge in the Caribbean countries and with Scotiabank’s absence, it is expected that resilience in the banking sector would deteriorate.  For now, there has been no official word on whether or not the bank is planning to leave Belize but we will keep our eyes and ears to the ground.