Thursday 3rd January, 2018-Scotiabank executives in Antigua have declined an invitation from Prime Minister Gaston Browne to hold discussions on the recent sale of the bank’s assets.
Last December, the prime minister who is also the country’s minister of finance and corporate governance wrote to Scotiabank’s Antigua Branch Manager Suzan Snaggs-Wilson, proposing a meeting involving high officials of the Bank of Nova Scotia and representatives of a “consortium comprising the Government, local banks and other qualified and competent local institutions” desirous of purchasing Scotiabank’s branch holdings in St. John’s.
But the meeting will not happen, since the bank has turned down the request. This was confirmed by Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ambassador Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst.
The government’s next move will be to engage the purchaser, Republic Financial Holdings Ltd. of Trinidad. However, no date has been set. Cabinet will hold discussions on the topic next week.
In order for the transaction between Scotiabank and Republic Financial to be complete, a vesting order must be issued and that power rests solely with Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Prime Minister Browne contends, “the transaction has implications for the integrity of the banking system in Antigua and Barbuda and, indeed, for the stability of the Eastern Caribbean Currency”, adding the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has concluded that the divestment is not in the overall interest of the country and its people. He stated in a letter to the ECCB’s Governor Timothy Antoine 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.