The issue of the loss of correspondent banking has been affecting the way business is done in Belize and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Earlier today, Steve Duncan, the Managing Director of Heritage Bank spoke to News Five about the impacts being caused by the severing of relations by U.S. banks. The Government has led a high-level delegation to the US to speak with federal regulatory agencies, but in terms of establishing ties with new, large and stable international banks there is little to report. In fact, government is now looking at smaller banks. It’s a crisis so large that it occupied a major part of the discussion at the recent CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Placencia. Duncan told us that they’re doing what they can, but there’s no easy or quick fix.
Steve Duncan, Managing Director, Heritage Bank
“It certainly has impacted the services. I think the banks recognizing the potential, the implications and the impact it could have on how we do business have been working on this assiduously for quite some time. We’ve made some adjustments, some alternative arrangements so that the impact to the society is not as great. However there is some impact and it continues to play out. We’re certainly in no way back to normal, but the banks have been able to find ways to get things done to make sure that transfers can still take place and that type of thing. So we’re working on it. I think the public expects us as bankers to get it done. We can’t expect the public out there to go and do this. That’s not what they do. So we have no choice as bankers to keep pushing at it, to try and sort it out because they expect us to do it. I think we’ve come a long way in keeping things as stable as possible, but we are not back to normal at all.”
“Is there any service that was once afforded by the correspondent bank relationship with Bank of America or the bigger banks been cut off completely?”
“No. And I say that in this context. As a country we are still able to do everything because if one bank cannot do it another bank can do it. Maybe your particular bank cannot do something, but there is a bank in Belize that is able to do it. As a group, as a Bankers Association we are still able to provide all the services to the general public, just that you may have some mix and match, so to speak.”