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Apr 29, 2015

Executive Chairman Says It’s Business As Usual for Belize Bank

Lyndon Guiseppi

In past three or four years, the large U.S. Banks and some European Banks have been facing some of the largest fines in the history of banking. Those fines, according to Lyndon Guiseppi, the Executive Chairman of Belize Bank, relate primarily to the banks being sanctioned for doing business in jurisdictions or in countries with clients who the U.S. may have had an embargo against or who may be involved in terrorist financing. Those banks, explains Guiseppi, where profits are lower than fines, have been taking the decision not to continue operating in certain jurisdictions in Africa, the Middle East and now in the Caribbean. He also explained the steps that the Belize Bank is taking to ensure that business flows.

 

Lyndon Guiseppi, Executive Chairman, Belize Bank

“It has recently come to the Caribbean and I know, for instance, that in many jurisdictions in the Caribbean in St. Lucia, St Vincent, Bahamas, Antigua, Grenada, Barbados, in Jamaica there have been incidents of banks or finance companies in those jurisdictions who have found themselves in a position where some of the correspondent banks are sort of retracting from the region. It has now come to Belize. So, that is really how I would explain to you this whole concept of de-risking.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now, in terms of the Prime Minister’s, the Government’s input in trying to facilitate, if I may, a solution for this issue. Can you share with us how that has been in terms; well the PM spoke on the meeting that was held in Miami recently. In terms of the way forward and the specific plan of action moving ahead, what is that like?”

 

Lyndon Guiseppi

“Well, let me say from the onset that, I fully endorse everything that the Prime Minister said at the press conference this morning and I certainly welcome the remarks and the continued support that we have gotten from the Prime Minister himself, personally, Ministry of Finance and also from the Central Bank. They have been extremely collaborative during this period and we’ve worked together and I believe we have a solution for what we see happening. But before I even got there, let me reassure you, and our public and our valued clients that for those of you who would go to a Belize Bank branch tomorrow, absolutely nothing will change. Whether it is you want to make a deposit, whether it is you want to withdraw funds, whether it is you want to do a bill payment, whether it is you want to pay a credit card, or whether it is you want to send money abroad for your son who might be studying abroad or pay for goods, tomorrow morning when we open our branches you can do all of those services with the Belize Bank. This issue of correspondent banking is a very temporary situation. It is a very contained situation. But as I speak, and for the next couple of months, and certainly for the foreseeable culture, our clients, the vast majority of clients who comes to a Belize Bank will be able to do exactly what they did for the last thirty or forty years they’ve dealt with us. That is the assurance I give you today. In terms of the Central Bank’s role in all of this, the Central Bank has indicated its preparedness to support us; I want to emphasize that, in the event that we have any issue. The only issue I anticipate, for instance, that a customer want to make a wire payment to purchase goods and services, but at this point in time I do not believe necessarily we would need such support. Because that can be facilitated by using a credit card- you can pay with your credit card to import goods. But as I had indicated before, for the next couple of months we have absolutely no restrictions whatsoever in making wire payments for our clients who need to wire funds or to receive funds into Belize. So, for all those who are listening again, the sky has not fallen out and we continue to be the pre-eminent banking group in Belize and our aspirations is to certainly become the pre-eminent banking group in the wider Caribbean. We continue to do business as usual.”

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