OFFSHORE SECTOR DEAD

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No one will trust a bank in Belize anymore, after what happened”– Giovanni Caporaso Gottlieb, founder of Caporaso & Partners in Panama.

The cryptic messages being sent out by the now defunct Offshore banks in Belize are nothing short of a Category 5 banking crisis in Belize. Its foul stench is only rivalled by the environmental cataclysm unravelling at the New River. Gottlieb who is on record asking the Prime Minister to remove Joy Grant as the governor is again at the fore of the offensive as he defends his European clients against the financial decisions taken by the Choice Bank liquidator and the Central Bank and by extension the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister of Belize. Depositors are not getting their deposits refunded—not it large part. Only 53 percent is approved to be disbursed.

This past Tuesday September 17, the Central Bank airlifted a couple of World Bank figures to attend a cushy cocktail where they would roll out a Financial Inclusion Strategy (FIS) for Belize. Present to give a featured address was DPM Faber who obviously did not understand what the FIS was. He was glad to say only that the students who do stay in school are financially literate. The Central Bank, vintage UDP, spent thousands of dollars to say they had a strategy on how to make more people have Bank Accounts and access to Financial Services. What was clear is that they have NO strategy on how to stimulate the economy—the only real way to put money in people’s pockets and thus pave the way to bank accounts—and revive the banking sector. The UDP just does not get it.

The virtual demise of the Offshore Financial Sector is as real as a Quaternary-level industry can get. This places undue pressure in the entire banking industry.

Sanctuary Bay exposed the Atlantic Bank International and the weaknesses of the leadership of the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance and its Minister, the Prime Minister of the Belize. Gone or amalgamated are several financial entities like First Caribbean, Choice Bank, and Atlantic International Bank Ltd. Walking out on a feeble limb are Scotia Bank, who denies going the way of others in the Caribbean, and Caye International.

The Prime Minister of Belize and Minister of Finance Barrow has ruled over a sizzling bed of ineptitude. At no other juncture of our financial history has our Banking sector been in such fatal disrepute. When the European Union balks at doing business in Belize we are in dire straits. And when, our tax people change flight plans in fear of being picked off by ‘federico’ then everyone who owns a Belizean dollar should be very concerned.

The UDP and PM Barrow are the proverbial salt that has corroded and killed our Offshore Financial Sector. Mark cannot fix this. The UDP are egregiously bankrupt for all intents and purposes. Each and every day they extend their lameness in government, our country is plunged deeper and deeper into the red—way beyond four billion in debt.