Belize News, Reporter.bz – REPORTER NEWSPAPER

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PM Responds to Angry Choice Depositors

September 24
08:01 2019

Friday, September 20th. 2019 –

Prime Minister Dean Barrow addressed concerns and frustration of former Choice Bank depositors that have reached out to the Reporter alleging the Central Bank and Choice’s new liquidator have been less than helpful in facilitating the recovery of their money, saying while he was not aware of the current status of the process, he is confident it is being carried out properly.

“There can be no question of Choice saying we will not entertain requests on the part of depositors for the return of their money. The bank is in liquidation so that is a matter for the liquidator,” Barrow said when asked about the complaints about the Central Bank and Choice’s liquidator Kareem Michael.

The European customers of Choice Bank are trying desperately to recover their money but they say the Central Bank has stopped answering requests for answers and say the new liquidator has told them they cannot recover their money. The depositors say that since the appointment of the new liquidator many of them have been informed that they are ineligible to be refunded their money because of banking restrictions which prohibit transactions with a select list of countries. That list, we understand, includes some 58 countries, leaving depositors from those countries hoping to recover their money with limited options and what they describe as a lack of communication and transparency by Belizean authorities.

The Reporter understands several embassies have been contacted and are conducting an evaluation of the situation. The frustrated depositors are also hoping to involve international authorities to see what pressure can be applied on the Belizean institution so they can recover their money.

“I’m satisfied that the CB and new liquidator are going to be acting completely professional and above board,” Barrow said in response to the claims. “I have every confidence in the process and in my view we have absolutely nothing to worry about,” he said referring to attempts by the disgruntled depositors to get international authorities involved.

“Choice is in liquidation because of the action of the Central Bank. I had to give directive for license to be suspended and canceled. We did so because we were acting in a prudential basis. We move the way regulatory authorities who are acting properly ought to move,” he added.

One depositor had complained they were informed that Choice cannot return “half” of current accounts to European customers, saying this is “unacceptable”. Barrow said there would, of course, be a determination for what kind of recovery depositors will be able to obtain adding that “It’s a certainty that nobody will get back 100% of deposits.”

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