Friday, May 17, 2019

The drama unfolding in the Atlantic International Bank Limited (AIBL) case seems like it’s straight out of a poorly scripted soap opera.  There are recent reports that Senator Aldo Salazar was detained and questioned, at the request of the US Federal Trade Commission, in regard to the role Atlantic International Bank Limited played in the Sanctuary Bay real estate scam.  Senator Salazar is listed as the legal representative for AIBL. Luckily, the Senator, it seems, was more than happy to share copious amounts of information and will more than likely be called to testify at hearings.  It appears that there is a civil suit seeking damages for the victims of what is known as the biggest real estate fraud of its kind.

One of the many functions of the Central Bank of Belize is to be the lender of last resort and at the same time the regulatory body for the financial sector.  In simple terms this means that the Central Bank can extend credit to financial institutions that are experiencing unusual circumstances and are unable to get credit elsewhere and whose collapse would have adverse effects on the economy.  It also always has the responsibility of monitoring and the supervision of all financial institutions ensuring that they operate within the standard rules and regulations of this sector.

Certainly, the shortcomings of the Central Bank of Belize in this sad fiasco are glaringly apparent.  There seems to have been very little supervision and due diligence on the part of the Central Bank, and one is left to question the motive for the lax attitude.  Could it be that this financial institution enjoyed special privileges because of its political connections?  The fact remains however, that the closure of the AIBL has serious repercussions on the Belizean economy.  It could potentially implicate its sister company Atlantic Bank Limited and risk their corresponding banking relationships.  Even the Central Bank’s few and tenuous corresponding banking relationships may very well be in serious jeopardy.

The PM recently announced that he has met with the US Charge d’Affaires.  The discussion centered on a purported “settlement.”  He said “the question is how to reconcile the FTC’s interest…victim compensation and our interests…”  The PM went on to say that he wants “whatever cloud the AIBL saga has caused to be lifted from over our jurisdiction.”  The US investors have been defrauded over US $100M, allegedly with the help of the AIBL.  This is a price that Belizeans must now pay for the Central Banks’ negligence.

Belizeans are going to be left footing yet another bill for yet another UDP Government disaster.  This is the price we must pay Uncle Sam so that we do not lose corresponding banking relationships and receive yet another black eye before the international financial community. For this one…. the truth is unfolding… appears it’s far beyond what the eye can see and will catch several big fishes. This saga reminds us of one of those well-scripted soap operas on Netflix that develop the incestuous relationships in which financial institutions and privileged families and cronies participate.

This is another expensive band aid that tries unconvincingly to cover the gaping truth that is the ineffectual governance in our country. It seems that time and again Belizeans must suffer and pay through the nose for the blunders, arrogance and gross incompetence of the current UDP Government of Belize.  Basta Ya!