By Alexis R. Milan
Apart from the Belize Bank, which has already had its corresponding relations with Bank of America (BOA) severed, no other bank in Belize will be affected or have corresponding relations cut, said Prime Minister Dean Barrow at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
Barrow detailed his recent trip to Miami, Florida where he addressed the banking situation, saying that Bank of America had made it clear to him that no other commercial bank in Belize, onshore or offshore, needs to worry about having its corresponding relations with them severed.
According to Barrow, Bank of America, which services all local banks, made the decision to cut its corresponding relations with Belize Bank simply as a de-risking measure and in no way reflects anything negative about the Belize Bank. Bank ofAmeica told the Prime Minister that the reason for its decision was based on a difference of business models between itself and the Belize Bank, along with a matrix of other factors. But it had nothing to do with wrongdoing or malpractice on the part of the Belize Bank.
The implications for Belize Bank is that they will no longer be able to wire money to the United States.
Barrow said the average Belizean will be unaffected by this, but business owners who do regular transactions will feel the effects. However, they will be able to do so through the Central Bank or other local banks who remain unaffected.
He explained that Bank of America, as well as several other banks in the US and Europe have started the process of de-risking, because their financial institutions are under so much scrutiny that if there are any errors made during any of the corresponding bank transactions, it could cost them millions of dollars, a value worth even more than the original transaction.
Barrow then recalled the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama where US President Barack Obama pledged to have US policy reviewed and see where the US could bring relief to the region so as not to have instances like this very situation become even more problematic in the Caribbean.