By Caribbean News Now contributor
ST JOHN’S, Antigua –Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has advised the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) that his government will not be issuing a vesting order to facilitate the Bank of Nova Scotia’s divestment of its Antigua holdings about which there was no consultation.
The prime minister on Wednesday wrote to Timothy Antoine, the governor of the ECCB, which has regulatory responsibility for banks operating in Antigua and Barbuda’s domestic financial space.
In this letter, Browne told the ECCB governor: “At no stage was the government of Antigua and Barbuda consulted by the Bank of Nova Scotia nor was its agreement sought in this matter. The people of Antigua and Barbuda, including many persons holding deposits and other investment instruments with the bank, learned of this divestment scheme through a media release.”
Declaring that “This matter has implications for the integrity of the banking system in Antigua and Barbuda and, indeed, for the stability of the Eastern Caribbean Currency”, the prime minister advised the Central Bank governor that “the government of Antigua and Barbuda has concluded that the divestment announced by the Bank of Nova Scotia is not in the overall interest of our country and our people”.
Copying his letter to colleague heads of government of ECCB member countries, some of which are similarly affected, the Antigua and Barbuda prime minister advised the Central Bank governor that “until other options for divestment are explored, particularly providing a consortium of local banks the right of first refusal to acquire the Antigua and Barbuda operations, the government of Antigua and Barbuda will not issue a vesting order”.
Republic Bank’s announcement on Tuesday that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Scotiabank’s operations in Guyana and eight other Caribbean territories has left officials at Central Bank worried about the troubling ramifications of this move.
In Guyana, officials told local media that Republic Bank cannot purchase Scotia’s banking operations without Central Bank approval, which will entail a thorough due diligence process.
According to Kaieteur News, Central Bank executives said that Republic Bank has not submitted an application for approval regarding its move to acquire Scotia’s operations in Guyana.
Central Bank governor, Dr Gobind Ganga, said that when Republic Bank makes its application, several processes will have to be implemented to ensure that the financial institution abides by the requirements and criteria set out in the Financial Institutions Act.
Ganga said that he will be engaging his counterparts in the other regions where Republic Bank would be acquiring the banking assets of Scotiabank.