The Office of the Prime Minister informs the Belizean public that the Prime Minister, the Hon. Dean Barrow left the country on Saturday, January 23 for Washington, D.C., where scheduled meetings were held with key senior officials of the United States Federal Government and of the U.S. banking monitoring systems on the problems being faced by our Belizean banking sector as it relates to the issues affecting correspondent banking relationships and the recent de-risking moves taken by bigger US banks.
The Prime Minister will be accompanied by the Financial Secretary, Mr. Joseph Waight, the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Glenford Ysaguirre, and Ambassadors Patrick Andrews and Mark Espat. Prime Minister Barrow returns to Belize on January 31st 2016.
Following a ‘de-risking’ strategy forced on the United States of America’s (USA) banking industry by federal regulators the Belize Bank and Atlantic Bank, two of the largest banks in the country, lost correspondence with the Bank of America, the premier multinational banking and financial service provider. The ‘de-risking’ left banks in Belize searching for alternatives to continue providing offshore banking to their customers, but other banking issues also surfaced which include the lack of credit card transactions made between Belize and the USA.
Banking institutions are reassuring their customers of their service and the Government of Belize is also trying to stabilize the situation and ensure the continuation of international banking. According to Prime Minister Barrow, the ‘de-risking’ stagey poses a substantial threat to the Belizean economy.
“It is potentially a crisis, in fact I don’t want to overstate things, but if we don’t find a solution one way or another it is going to be a huge crisis. We are not there yet, I hope that my visit to Washington will pay some dividends,” stated Barrow.
Assurance is being given that Government, the Central Bank and the Belizean banking community are working assiduously and very proactively to address this issue on all fronts—politically, diplomatically and operationally. Belizeans no await for the results of the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington.