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Loyal Bank's headquarters in St. Vincent. (Internet photo)
Loyal Bank’s headquarters in St. Vincent. (Internet photo)
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An opposition lawmaker says that the March 1 indictment in New York of an offshore bank in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is an indictment on the SVG government.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said last Monday, March 12, that his government had Loyal Bank under review since 2016 — almost two years before the indictment in New York, in which two Vincentians and two firms registered in SVG, were indicted.

“I think that by now, Vincentians should recognise that when the former minister of finance speaks, it is not necessarily that everything that he says can be taken squarely,” Kay Bacchus-Baptiste a lawyer and opposition senator said on Friday of Gonsalves, who was Minister of Finance from March 2001 to Nov. 9, 2017.

“He always has the tendency to be defending a position, especially in this particular case. It is not like he is speaking dispassionately. So we have to read between the lines to hear what he is not saying and we have to analyse carefully what he has said,” she said on her New Democratic Party’s “New Times” programme on NICE Radio on Friday.

Loyal Bank, an offshore bank with offices in Budapest, Hungary and SVG; and Loyal Agency and Trust Corp. (“Loyal Agency”), an off-shore management company located SVG, are among six individuals and four corporate defendants, including two Vincentian nationals named in the indictment.

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Kay Bacchus Baptiste
Senator and Lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste. (iWN file photo)

St. Vincent-born Linda Bullock, 57, along with naturalised Vincentian, Britain-born Adrian Baron, 63, a resident of Budapest, Hungary, have been indicted in alleged international securities fraud and money laundering schemes amounting to US$50 million.

Gonsalves, who was also Minister of Finance, from March 2001 to last November, told the media last Monday that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in Kingstown have conducted on-site and off-site examinations of Loyal Bank in 2016 and 2017.

“To say that the regulators had Loyal Bank in their scope means absolutely nothing. In fact, I think it is a bad indictment on Loyal Bank and on the FSA. Because if you had them in you scope, why would you renew their licence in February of this year?” Bacchus Baptiste said.

She said that the law governing the offshore finance sector was drafted in such a way that if there is anything amiss, the licence of an offshore bank can be suspended, pending investigation.

“I am asking the public of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to analyse that statement. What does it mean that you had them in your scope or you were looking at them? It means absolutely nothing if you do nothing to prevent them from continuing to conduct their business.”

She said that a scheme of the scope alleged in the indictment “would be more than enough grounds” for the FSA, which regulates non-commercial bank financial institutions in SVG, to suspend Loyal Bank’s license.

It was noted that the indictment said that the United States’ investigation started since 2011.

“Is he telling us that from 2011 the licence from that bank was not renewed?” Bacchus-Baptiste said of Gonsalves.

“It means, therefore, that someone is lying to us or someone ignored the obvious signs.

Bacchus-Baptiste raised questions about a possible deeper meaning of Sharda Bollers’ sudden departure from the helm of the FSA.

She further noted that Bollers was replaced by Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, wife of Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and the prime minister’s daughter-in-law.

Ralph Gonsalves 1
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

The prime minister said that his daughter-in-law, an FSA director, agreed to fill the post for two months after she was begged to do so after Bollers’ Jan. 31 departure.

The prime minister has also said that Duncan-Gonsalves prefers her substantive job as a senior crown counsel in the Attorney General’s chambers, although the FSA post commands a higher salary.

Bacchus-Baptiste commented:

“Why would you have to force her to take the job, the highest-paid job in the land? And then the sudden departure of Mrs. Bollers and then you install someone else almost seems to me like there was some move afoot to have all these positions held by persons of the Gonsalves clan.

“And Vincentians must not give the ULP a pass on this. It is very, very serious. Every day, almost, something arises that puts a stain on St. Vincent because of the way the ULP has been running this country,” she said.

11 replies on “Lawmaker questions gov’t action on indicted bank”

  1. Kay Baptiste brings up some very important information here. Everything the Highest level ULP members do causes more questions than answers. Too bad they control everything, otherwise they would have to answer a lot of questions, and for once, actually show evidence for what they say, instead of just words.

  2. Why the the PM step down as Minister of Finance in the wake of this ongoing investigation? Where there is ample smoke, there is, or has been a “fire!”

  3. East Europeans and Russians are at the top of Interpol list of criminals, involved in money laundering and other fraudulent bank activities. That they would chose to infiltrate poor little SVG is very telling. I hope you people take this case serious and start looking more closely at your government’s financial dealings. Gonsalves (Always smiling) already rich, has inside infomation and he knows when to step clear to save himself. The ones who suffer are the regular man and woman who have to turn over a dime ten times in order to survive. You people (I’m not refering to Kay Bacchus )are good at writing long essays about bullsh*t but don’t actually contribute anything toward the betterment of SVG.

  4. Everything negative affects SVG, its cumulative. Everything including DREGs boy when a he disrespected the NY diplomatic protection police officer. Add everything together, the rape charges against DREGs, it mounts up and is bringing destruction of our State.

    Bad people like Ames, Wise and a whole line of foreign con-men. Add them into the equation and it is even worse. Add the sale of our UN votes to nasty countries.

  5. C. ben-David says:

    The truth is that this regime suspended the licenses of most of the shady offshore banks following its 2001 election that had been begged to come here by the previous NDP.

    These money launderers and fraudsters are able to operate even in the richest countries of the world because their shrewd evasion techniques are very difficult to track. An investigation that began in 2001 was concluded in 2011 took seven years to conclude using the best investigative tools in the world!

    As usual, Kay Baptiste-Bacchus is just on another of her witch hunts based on innuendo and nothing else.

    Just because some investigation began in 2011 — and given that most such investigations never lead to any charge of wrongdoing — this does not mean that the license of the bank should have been immediately suspended. Doing so would have made us a pariah country where “guilty unless proven innocent” is the way our justice system works.

    You Ralph-haters could never stoop low enough to try to smell some sh*t about our four-time elected PM.

  6. Appears the top jobs only belong to certain people in St Vincent. The longest rope do have an end. And, a day will come.

    1. Yes Observer. It is also true that at some point the money will run out for the ULP-paid internet trolls, at least “Time” is the final arbiter for everyone and everything. The rich and powerful almost never face prosecution here on earth.

  7. There must be grounds for the suspension or revocation of any licence. Having full knowledge of the legal framework in this sector, a licence cannot be suspended or revoked without cause. There is a process. A hunch, a thought or hearsay will not be sufficient grounds for either actions postulated by my learned colleague and I AM SURE SHE KNOWS THIS.

    Even in first world countries, there are set legal procedures and thresholds that must be met before finite actions are taken. Investigations take time and should be thorough.

    Now my response is not intended to condone, confirm or deny the present actions of the FSA, as I have no personal knowledge of the facts but I did find it necessary to shed light on my colleague’s inferences, which appears to suggest the “actions of non-actions” of the government (wait, isnt the FSA an independent legal entity?) or the FSA is for the reasons stated is YET ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT POOR AND DISTASTEFUL POLITICAL FOOTBALL.

    I guess this would be a case she would have happily taken on if the FSA acted based on incomplete investigations or hunches. An appeal of the “premature decision” to suspend etc. would have made nice grounds for any appeal.

    Aww, perhaps, this would have been the preference!….

    Just perhaps…..

  8. Remember Maduro of Venezuala was exposed as laundering money sent to Barcelona Spain to a left wing politician though an SVG Bank. That bank is still trading and is owned by the top people in SVG.

  9. Adrian Barron is an Englishman from Brighton England. He was granted SVG citizenship by DREG’s and has a Vincentian girl friend who is a model and living with him in Budapest.

    I can assure you DREG’s knows all about the Loyal Bank, because they have been just that Loyal.

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