Atlantic Bank International Booted by Bank of America
Even in the face of improved compliance to banking regulations set out by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, Atlantic International Bank Limited is the latest financial institution locally to lose its US correspondent Bank. The bank was not providing comments today, but a release posted on its website and dated July twenty-eight, made the announcement. At the close of business this evening, Bank of America ceased accepting wire transfers, U.S. dollar bank drafts and foreign currency from Atlantic International. According to the statement, bank is exploring all available options for the free-flow of incoming and outgoing wires and is working on a solution to the banking issue. The issue is called “De-risking,” and is a compliance regulation exercise that is being undertaken within the Caribbean and Central America regions by large U.S. and European banks. The process has seen the severing of ties with smaller institutions to avoid money laundering activities. Earlier this month, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Eric Eusey, explained how de-risking works, as well as its implications across the region.
Eric Eusey, Director, Financial Intelligence Unit
“You’ve heard the word corresponding banks right, one of the things the corresponding banks look at in every jurisdiction, and they do it frequently not just one time, is to see what is the rating according to the FATF standards for that jurisdiction. And based on that rating, if you have a very good rating they will continue to do business with your banks in that jurisdiction and they will want to extend the level of business that they do. But when you have a poor rating they tend to want to retreat and close off any arrangements that they have so that the level of risks do not permeate into their system. Now that’s an important issue, it’s technical but what you have now, ongoing is that if any jurisdiction whether it’s Belize or the Caribbean or any part of the world sends any tainted money to the American system, the American dollar is probably present in every country in the world and it’s the major currency for international trade. So at some point the money from a country will end up in America but if the U.S Justice Department decides that funds came from Country A and these funds are tainted they can’t really or directly touch Country A but they can cut off the bank that sends the tainted funds to their system. And they are very rigorous in protecting the system so that money laundered funds are not in the system. Of course, no system is perfect and some funds do get in but if they catch you they throw the book at you and the fines are hefty. It’s not a thousand dollars a million dollars, it’s hundreds of millions and some banks have been fined one, two, three billion dollars in the recent past so that’s the important thing or the benefit for the banks to avoid any of those issues to be associated with them.”
News Five attempted to get a comment from representatives of Atlantic International Bank on several occasions but all attempts were futile. The issue with its correspondent bank, according to Central Bank Governor Glen Ysaguirre, had been anticipated.