The New Today

The $2 million banking scandal!!!

News that several Grenadians have collectively lost an estimated EC$2 million that were deposited in their accounts at Republic Bank should attract the attention of the Dickon Mitchell-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) which has oversight of the banking sector in the sub-region.

THE NEW TODAY is not in any position to lay blame on the bank or the holders of the affected accounts for the disappearance of this large sum of money.

It is clear to us that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) does not have the capacity or capability to get at the bottom of this scandalous act that took place.

This publication did approach the local head of the bank Naomi De Allie and she insisted that their own investigation concluded that Republic Bank is not at fault as nothing was done within the financial institution to impact the accounts of the affected customers.

The persons who lost money are quite naturally upset and have consulted their lawyers about bringing a class action lawsuit against the bank.

The legal arguments can take up to 10 to 15 years in the court system before a final judgment is delivered in these court battles among the legal minds involved in any such high profile case.

What concerns us is what happens in the meantime? How can existing and future account holders have confidence that their monies are safe?

What does the bank intend to do to give the affected account holders access to their funds given the long and lengthy delays that are likely to take place in a prolonged court battle.

Republic Bank cannot shirk from its responsibility that it is indeed responsible for the safe keeping of these funds.

The bank has to put mechanisms in place to guarantee the safety of funds of all depositors.

The fact of the matter is that these account holders gave the bank their money for safe-keeping and the bank is responsible for safe-guarding these funds against hackers and other persons with ill-intent.

Isn’t it the same money that the bank uses to invest to make millions and billions in profits every year?

What is puzzling is a press release put out by Republic Bank after it was approached by THE NEW TODAY on Wednesday regarding the complaints received from the affected clients.

The article which was made available to the bank prior to publication made no mention of anyone in Republic Bank being engaged in fraudulent activities.

So it is quite puzzling that the release will say the following in part: “…The bank firmly rejects any allegation purporting possible fraudulent activity on customers’ accounts originating internally. These allegations are not only unfounded but also misleading.”

What is the message Republic Bank is trying to send out to the public since the article made no mention of any such allegation? Is this a red-herring on the part of the bank?

THE NEW TODAY believes that the Grenada government has a legal and moral obligation to take steps to protect the monies of all locals in the banking sector.

A few days ago, criminal defense attorney-at-law Anselm Clouden argued that the government has a constitutional right to take steps to protect the nation in the face of growing gun-related violence in the country.

The veteran lawyer made the disclosure as he gave support to the move by the Dickon Mitchell government to amend the Firearms act to provide for stiffer penalties for persons caught with illegal firearms after July 31 and to give a broadside to those opposition Members who did not vote in Parliament in support of the amended bill.

Congress also has a responsibility to act in the national interest and to ensure that the funds of all Grenadians and other citizens from around the world are protected in all our commercial banks.

This might call for an independent forensic person to be hired to do an independent probe into the system that is currently in place at Republic Bank to safeguard the deposits of clients.

This investigation should also include the bank’s headquarters in Trinidad & Tobago to see if the account of customers in Grenada is not open to some form of compromise in Port-of-Spain.

Grenadians have lost millions over the years in financial scandals.

The collapse of Clico and British American insurance companies has resulted in many of our people losing millions of dollars.

There was also the SGL Holdings with the Carriacou connection, and Capital Bank fiasco which resulted in the founder of the financial institution Finton DeBourg being convicted of fraud and receiving a very lengthy prison sentence that might never see him being released from the institution.

In the 1995-2003 period of the New National Party (NNP) government of Keith Mitchell, there was the First Bank scandal in which hundreds of depositors from North America lost all their pension monies in the millions.

Grenada must not be allowed, by Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and his Congress administration, to become the baking financial scandal centre in the Eastern Caribbean.

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