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Questionable behavior Op-Ed by Hilbert Haar

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Dear Reader

On Sunday, December 2nd, Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin made it known that a meeting between the management of the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Council of Ministers (COM) was scheduled to take place on December 7th at the Government Administration Building in Philipsburg.

During the meeting, it was expected that the management of Scotiabank would elucidate and share pertinent information based on the announcement of the sale of its operations on St. Maarten and eight other Caribbean territories to the Republic Financial Holdings Limited (Republic Bank).

Representatives of the Central Bank of Curacao & Sint Maarten (CBCS) were also invited to attend the meeting. On the website of the Central Bank of Curacao & Sint Maarten it states, that one of its key functions is, to supervise banking and other credit institutions to primarily promote the stability, integrity, efficiency, safety, and soundness of the financial sectors of the countries Curacao and Sint Maarten in general and to safeguard the interest of the depositors and other creditors of the banking and other credit institutions in particular.

Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin on behalf of the Council of Ministers said, “I am confident that the Central Bank will execute its function with respect to this matter, to ensure that the interests and wellbeing of all stakeholders including the employees and clients of Scotiabank are fully adhered to base on the laws that govern Sint Maarten.” 

However, according to a report in The Daily Herald, Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin had told reporters on Wednesday, December 12th, that Scotiabank had requested the postponement of the meeting and indicated that a new meeting would be held in early 2019. The reason for requesting the postponement was not mentioned.

Scotiabank Managing Director for Caribbean East David Parks had told The Daily Herald recently that workers at the two Scotiabank locations in St. Maarten will be joining Republic Bank, subject to regulatory approvals, following the sale. The bank is expected to change its name to Republic Bank after the sale transaction.

Parks made clear that all banking operations will continue normally in the various jurisdictions, including in St. Maarten, The Daily Herald concluded its report.

As to the reason for the postponement, we would like to refer our readers to a column by Sir Ronald Sanders titled "Scotiabank Obligation for Decades of Profits" wherein he points out a curious double standard is being applied by the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) by its decision to sell its operations in nine Caribbean countries to Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) of Trinidad and Tobago. Sanders uses his column to point out several reasons why a possible sale will not take place as quickly as the Bank of Nova Scotia would like.

In St. Maarten the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank (CBCS) would do well to follow the lead of Antigua and Barbuda where Prime Minister Gaston Browne is demanding that local indigenous banks be given the opportunity first to buy the two branches of Scotiabank in the twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda.

Given that St. Maarten does not have any local indigenous bank capable of making a bid for the two Scotiabank branches in St. Maarten, a public-private initiative to raise funding to buy the Scotiabank branches in St. Maarten should be entertained as an option.

Like Antigua and Barbuda, St. Maarten should be concerned with "enlarging the capacity of its local banks and enhancing their resilience as a legitimate concern in the best interest of its financial system." In the long run, that would also be in the best interest of the people of St. Maarten. Read Sir Ronald Sanders column and see if you agree with us.

In the meantime, do enjoy reading our full newsletter today.

Happy readings!


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