Delving into the maelstrom of International bank closures, one finds the Central Bank of Belize (CBB) entrenched in the muddled waters of alleged corruption and wrongdoings. The first international bank to close in a span of 12 months was Choice Bank Ltd. Giovanni Caporaso Gottlieb, a Panamanian offshore attorney, claimed that the closure of the bank was as a result of negligence by Central Bank, despite securing an insurance agreement for its liabilities and deposits, Choice’s license was abruptly terminated. Since it’s closure, Choice has changed two liquidators and is on its third in a span of 13 months. The latest liquidator assigned, Kareem Michael, was a Central Bank Deputy Governor. The Central Bank deemed his 19 months as a Deputy Governor as enough experience to undertake the liquidation of Choice Bank. This makes one wonder, why would someone leave such a prestigious post for a temporary job? Is it because of the perks received and the estimated $50,000 monthly salary? The hiring of an internal senior employee to undertake this task can be seen as unethical and can be linked to insider trading of information.
Being the regulatory body for class “A” International banking licenses, the winding up of Atlantic International Bank demonstrated the inefficiency and gross negligence and oversight from the Central Bank of Belize with respect to our financial sector. An FTC court document highlights an instance where previous CBB Governor Glenn Ysaguirre wrote to the then Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Joy Grant, raising the proverbial red flag on Sanctuary Bay. Asking her to open an investigation on the possible malfeasance of the development project. Shortly after he was removed, Joy Grant was appointed Governor of CBB. Why didn’t former Governor Ysaguirre follow the paper trail and have his team investigate the International bank? Is it because he was previously employed by a domestic sister bank of the international bank prior to his appointment as Governor of CBB?
FTC documents also point out that in 2016 CBB had requested a change in lot payments as the previous payment practice violated Belizean exchange regulations and was not included in Belize’s GDP statistics. In a signed declaration by Frank Costanzo, a principal of Sanctuary Bay, he claims that then-Governor of CBB Ysaguire would be able to provide Sanctuary Bay compliance letter if passports and contracts of their customers were forwarded to the CBB. Why would Glenn Ysaguirre provide a compliance letter then recommend an investigation by the FIU on his way out of the CBB? Joy Grant has gone on record acknowledging the receipt of the email but since she had been reassigned from the FIU, it was no longer her mandate and was not pursued.
As Governor of the Central Bank of Belize, she is tasked with safeguarding our financial stability, it was her duty to follow up on potential threats to our economy. Flags were raised, yet the perks and power seemed to have blinded her, that is, until ‘Federico’ came knocking at her door with 150MPH winds. Her tenure as Governor has been a rocky one and the Belizean people and the International community have grown weary of her mindless excuses. It is rumored that she is on her way out, good riddance perhaps, but should she be spared for knowingly failing to protect our international banks and causing an international black eye?
The silence from the CBB regarding the closing of AIBL is deafening and there seems to be no contingency plan to avoid this from reoccurring. The Prime Minister’s solution seems to be evident, remove the ham-fisted governor and move in the “fixer”.