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Aug 22, 2008

Charges against Belize Bank & F.C.I.B. dropped

Story PictureThe House of Representatives met in Belmopan and there were various pressing issues on the agenda for today’s meeting which had its usual share of feistiness and drama coming from both sides of the isle. But first, before the debate on the Windfall Tax and the Sixth Amendments to the Constitution were dealt with the Prime Minister dropped the big news when he announced that charges brought against the Belize Bank and the First Caribbean Bank by the Financial Intelligence Unit were being withdrawn. Belize Bank was charged with seventy-nine charges of failure to disclose suspicious transactions to the Central Bank on June eighteenth and First Caribbean Bank was charged later on July twenty-second with one hundred and thirteen charges. And what led to this?

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“The F.I.U. and the Government of Belize, specifically the Ministry of Finance and satisfied that any holes in the system which provides for the reporting to the F.I.U. by the commercial banks of suspicious financial transactions, will be plugged now by the agreement reached between the F.I.U. and the banks. Under that agreement, new arrangements for direct electronic reporting to the F.I.U. by the commercial bank’s compliance departments are being put in place. The banks have agreement to help fund the software and the hardware that will backstop these new arrangements. This will greatly lessen the risks of any damage internationally to Belize’s financial jurisdiction and ensure the continued smooth functioning now of the relationship between Belize’s commercial banks and their overseas counterparts.”

“We were concerned to send the right signal to the private international financial community as well as the regulatory agencies in the developed world and I think that by settling this matter out of court and putting in place visible new procedures and systems and mechanisms, we were able to do that and that was always the paramount concern of the government.”

Geraldine Davis, Director, F.I.U.
“Remember that these financial institutions do business, not only with locals, but they do business with international banks and so on abroad. So whenever anything happens then it reflects on the banks here and it reflects on their dealings with these foreign banks as well. So we’re trying to make sure that we don’t put anybody in a position where it increases the cost to us the consumers because eventually that is where it is going to stop because if the charges are passed on to these banks, it’s going to eventually trickle down to us. So, if the international bodies or banks and so on; corresponding banks have difficulties with the local banks then it requires enhanced due diligence and so it ends up putting additional charges on those banks.”

In other financial news, today the Prime Minister introduced a loan motion in which it is seeking to acquire eight point eight million U.S. dollars from the Caribbean Development Bank to rebuild the Kendal and Mullins River bridges which were destroyed by flooding caused by Tropical Storm Arthur in June. The first installment of that loan will be made on October first.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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