GOVERNOR: MAIN FACTS OF BANKING REPORT ALREADY PUBLISHED

anguillian
By anguillian November 23, 2015 10:23 Updated

 

 

A fairly large number of demonstrators, led by Dr. Ellis Webster, Leader of the Anguilla United Movement, marched to the Governor’s Office on Wednesday afternoon, November 18. They requested Governor Christina Scott to ask Chief Minister, Mr. Victor Banks, to release the ECCB report on the operations of the island’s two indigenous commercial banks, as well as the “forensic” or audited report.
The requests were made in a letter read by Dr. Webster which he presented to the Governor. But she stated that practically all of the pertinent information was already released except private matters dealing with personal accounts and other sensitive issues.

After thanking former Chief Minister, Mr. Hubert Hughes, for requesting the audited report, Governor Scott, in confirming what Mr. Banks had previously said, stated in part: “I am also very grateful to the current Chief Minister, though, for taking the decision earlier – may be three or four weeks ago now – to publish the full conclusions and recommendations of that report…He was pleased and keen to do that, and I am grateful to him.

“After many discussions, he and I did not publish the middle bit of the report because…the way the report was structured was to look at individual loan files for individual private citizens of Anguilla. And that obviously contained a lot of very sensitive personal data – people who have performing loans and people who don’t have performing loans – a lot of very sensitive information about individual financial positions. It would not be appropriate to release that at this stage to the public. What we have done is put out into the public domain all of the recommendations and all of the conclusions; and I would really encourage people to take a look at that. It is available on The Anguillian website.”

The Governor also told Dr. Webster and the demonstrators: “I very grateful to the Chief Minister for his assurance to me, as recently as yesterday evening, that he is keen to continue the discussions that have been happening very intensively now between the Government of Anguilla, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the IMF, the UK Government and other partners. Those are vital discussions and they are also extremely complex and difficult discussions.

“But I think what is reassuring is the shared commitment by all of those organisations to identify a solution that is a sustainable one – that will correct for all time the problems and challenges that we have faced with the banks.

“The solution also needs to be affordable to Anguilla. It needs to be something we can manage inside the spending plans of the Government – not just over the next year or two, but over the years to come. It also needs to be fair to depositors and we need to make sure that going forward the regulation and controls around the banks are of such that we know that we are not going to have the same sorts of problems again in the future.”

Some persons among the demonstrators remarked: “It is a waste of time. Nothing will happen.”

The Letter Addressed to the Governor is as follows:

18th November 2015

Her Excellency Miss Christina Scott
The Governor
Government House
P 0 Box 60
Old Ta
AI 2640
Anguilla

Your Excellency,

We the People of Anguilla whose names are attached to this Petition are engaging in a demonstration to Your Excellency Christina Scott, Governor as an act of Protest to call upon you to fulfill your undertaking made to the Public of Anguilla in respect of Anguilla’s two indigenous banks which have been declared insolvent and which have been under conservatorship for the past two years by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

By way of an interview just a few months ago, Your Excellency provided an interview to Mr Keithstone Greaves on his weekly Talk Show Programme in which, with respect to a question posed by him to you on the matter of disclosure of the Bank Report by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), you indicated that as soon as the Report was in your possession that you would fully disclose the contents of the Report to the People of Anguilla because you felt that the People of Anguilla had a right to know what had transpired with their banking institutions so that the situation could never happen again. Your commitment to disclosure was not expressed as being hinged or contingent on any other condition.

Therefore the People of Anguilla treated your words as an undertaking and a firm commitment to us, as we know that your Office always places great reliance on principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. We see this issue of the ECCB banking Report and indeed to some extent the Forensic Report commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from Price Waterhouse Coopers as part of the fabric touching and concerning those principles of openness and which should be upheld at such a critical juncture in Anguilla’s history.

We are aware that you have been in possession of the said ECCB Banking Report since in or about August of this year, yet to date you have failed to honour the commitment to the People of Anguilla by fully disclosing the sa1d Report to us. It appears that this Report addresses the substance of what caused the banks to fail and by the words of former Chairman of the Monetary Council Dr Ralph Gonsalves may reflect issues of “mismanagement, incestuous lending and friendly auditors”. As such, the People of Anguilla are put under even further notice as to the grave matters leading to the demise of the Banks and therefore are calling upon you by this means to honour the principles by which your Office is said to be governed and to produce most urgently the full Report.

We are very keen for you to respect the commitment made because, unlike the former Chief Minister, the Honourable Mr Hubert Hughes, who had always indicated that he would be forthright and fully disclose the Report (independent of your commitment), we know that the current Chief Minister, Honourable Mr Victor Banks is reluctant to uphold that undertaking.

We believe that regrettably the possible implications of family relations where his brother was a manager of one of the failed banks and he was then the Minister of Finance when certain questionable observations were being made by the Central Bank may be pressing reasons for his non-disclosure of the Report.

It is exactly because of the Chief Minister’s possible conflicts why he may wish to rely on the confidentiality of the Report, but it is also exactly because of these circumstances of possible conflict that good governance should prevail. As such, we call upon you to honour your undertaking and your clear expressions that the People had a right to know the full contents of the Report.

We remain adamant at this point to receive full and complete information because by the recent communication dated 6th November 2015, by your Minister Duddridge, it appears that the People of Anguilla are being called upon to bear a tax burden that could amount to EC$70 million for the next decade totalling EC$700 million dollars as part of a resolution for the Banks separate and apart from the usual yearly budgetary tax implications. When one conceives that Anguilla’s working population is on average about 4,000 persons, the tax implication is nothing short of staggering and devastating to us as a small island nation.
The People of Anguilla want to make it crystal clear and which has been echoing in the broadcast and written media for months now that under no conditions are we prepared to pay by way of taxes for a resolution when the full nature of the problem has not been disclosed. Indeed, in addition to your assurance on production of the ECCB Banking Report, we are aware through the former Chief Minister of Anguilla back in 2014 that Minister Duddridge also agreed to disclosure of a Forensic Audit as he too felt that ” … the People of Anguilla deserve information on what went wrong in the banks and reassu.rance that any persons responsible for wrong doing will be held to account.” We therefore also look forward to that commitment being upheld as a matter of urgency.

We look forward to the commitment by Minister Duddridge for the production of the Forensic Report commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and funded through the Department for International Development (DIFD.

We look forward to your most urgent response to these issues and to communication of the release of the ECCB Banking Report.

Yours sincerely,
Concerned Citizens of Anguilla

(Signatures attached below)

cc: Mr James Duddridge MP, Minister of the Overseas Territories

All Local Media: Radio Anguilla 95.5 fm, Up Beat Radio 97.7 fm, Klass 92.9 fm,

The Anguillian Newspaper, The Herald Newspaper, Kool FM,

Voice of Creation, Caribbean Beacon

anguillian
By anguillian November 23, 2015 10:23 Updated

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