The Central Bank of Belize decided to revoke Choice Bank Limited’s license, in what has turned out to be an unexpected movement that has caused serious problems for account depositors, since Choice has ensured that, starting July 2, it will allow cash withdrawals to be made from its customers’ accounts.
The determination of the Central Bank of Belize, made known by the Governor Joy Grant, was produced six months after Choice bank’s problem began. During this period, the institution in charge of regulating the Central American country’s financial sector hasn’t adopted any measures!
In statements published on the central Bank’s YouTube channel, Grant clarified that, with the revocation of its license, the Chie Bank could no longer make international bank negotiations. According to this official, a routine control of the Choice Bank made by the Central Bank at the end of 2017 revealed weaknesses in operations and violations of international banking laws. In April of 2018, Choice Bank’s problems increased, when its licenses for activities linked to pre-paid cards were suspended. At the time, Choice Bank suspended withdrawal of cash deposited account holders.
According to Grant, starting from that moment, the Central Bank of Belize has received an enormous amount of e-mails, with complaints about Choice, made by customers of said bank, but THEY DIDN’T DO ANYTHING. Some even threatened to adopt legal means (the Caporaso & Partners firm). Choice Bank couldn’t present a plan that showed their intentions and capability to resolve this situation to the Central Bank. At the beginning of this week, auditors of the Central Bank entered the offices of Choice Bank to demand information that they hadn’t been able to deliver previously, Ms. Grant, the bank governor pointed out. We now have to wonder why the bank governor decided to take measures only after six months and why did she put the bank in liquidation instead of curating it. She wouldn’t be going to place her friends in the bank to make the account holders’ money disappear, now would she? If there was no action by the Central Bank of Belize during the six months of the Choice Bank’s crisis, why do we have to believe that now they’re doing it in good faith?
After analyzing the data shared by the Choice Bank, the Central Bank of Belize concluded that the actions taken by the Choice Bank’s proprietors and management weren’t sufficient to correct the situation; nonetheless, obviating Choice’s communications where it indicated to its customers that, from July 2, it would have enabled access to their assets. Then, the Central Bank decided to revoke its license and named a “liquidator”, Harry Hassel, who would be supported by a team of assessors, who would probably have eaten up a big part of the assets.
This “liquidator” will have complete power over Choice Bank’s administration. After liquidating the Bank’s assets, Hassel will distribute these assets in a supposedly “fair and reasonable manner” according to legal priorities, Grant concluded, who also clarified that the financial sector of Belize will continue t be as strong as ever.
However, the truth is completely different. The Central Bank of Belize’s little transparent way of acting has aroused strong criticism in the international community and among account holders. The manner in which it proceeded with the Choice Bank aroused many doubts about the banking sector in Belize and will undoubtedly result in a decrease of investors’ trust because of the obvious lack of legal guarantees in this country. We hope that the government will take action and liquidate the governor Grant who has sown herself incapable of complying with the legal functions of the Central Bank.
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