Belize Bank loses $33 million

Posted By: Marty

Belize Bank loses $33 million - 07/03/11 09:17 PM

$33 million in the red: Belize Bank records biggest loss in history

The country’s largest bank, the Belize Bank, has recorded its largest annual loss on record at the end of the 2010-2011 financial year due to a large pool of non-performing loans, especially large commercial loans, Deputy Group Chief Financial Officer of the Belize Bank, Michael Coye, confirmed to Amandala today.

The Belize Bank’s accounts for the quarter ended March 31, 2011, indicated that the bank lost $33 million, and the end-of-year report records $32 million “in the red.”

The year before, the bank showed a profit of just over $4 million. In 2009, when it wrote off the $20 million from the Venezuelan loan proceeds, put towards the $33 million debt of Universal Health Services, it registered a loss of $1.3 million.

BCB Holdings Limited, the bank’s parent company, has, for its part, reported a net loss of US$7.3 million for 2010-2011 and a net loss per share of US$0.07, according to the company.

The Belize Bank said that Financial Services reported an operating loss of US$21.9 million for the year after an exceptional charge of US$36.4 million in respect of loan provisions against a total loan portfolio of US$864 million.

The problem with loan performance has spanned at least the past two to three years, but it was highlighted in 2010, when the level of loan non-performance in at least two commercial banks in Belize remained more than five times above the prudential benchmark.

Coye had told us in the latter part of 2010 that the bank had set up a Remedial Management Unit (RMU), headed by Mario Sabido, to help bring back the accounts to a performing status and that definitive improvement was expected by the following quarter.

At the time, the rate of non-performing loans was 28%, but the situation had worsened slightly at last report, to a rate of nearly 30%.

Coye noted that when the loans become non-performing, it means that they stop accruing interest and so the bank does not earn the usual revenues. Coye said that he does not expect the bank’s financial position to turn around for at least another year.

As for the RMU, he said, “They are very active in trying to collect on these loans.”

Coye said that there have been some success stories where the bank has worked with clients to see whether they could bring their businesses back, but some are in receivership while others are facing foreclosure of assets. He told us that one loan for the banana sector was salvaged through the sale of an asset.

Whereas the level of non-performing loans in Belize is high, said Coye, the extent in the Turks and Caicos, where BCB Holdings also has a bank, is “a little worse” and the economy there is “struggling.”

For BCB Holdings, he said, the international banking services, which include those which cater to tourism businesses, are doing better than the others in their finance portfolio, he said.

“Should customers be worried about what they see in the bank’s financial statements?” Amandala asked.

“I don’t believe so,” replied Coye.

He told us that the Belize Bank is still heavily capitalized. The Capital to Deposit ratio as of March 2011 was 18%, higher than the 9% requirement.

Also, he said, the bank’s liquidity requirement is $175 million, and they have an excess of $55 million.   He explained that the bank is sitting on the deposits and not making money off them. Due to the excess liquidity, they are not taking any term deposits, he added.

“The bank is too liquid, because people are not borrowing” said Coye.

Money is there to lend, he said, adding that the bank plans to diversify its portfolio and pay special attention to retail services, such as residential mortgages, which may be as low as 11%.

Investments in treasury bills issued by the Government are limited and all the banks compete for about 2.4% interest, which is lower than the 5.5% paid out for deposits, said Coye, explaining why it is not profitable to hold on to large deposits at this time.


“What do you have to look forward to in the new financial year?” we asked.

“All the banks will start competing for the loaning clients,” he said, indicating that there would also be a “squeeze” on margins, resulting in lower mortgage rates.

“We are looking at this year to really get everything cleaned up,” Coye told us.

With increased lending, though, wouldn’t the bank run the risk of ending up with even more non-performing loans?

When we asked Coye this question, he said that with the Group Risk Unit, which manages all risk, especially credit risk, there are structures now in place that they hope will ensure the problem does not repeat itself. The bank is learning from their mistakes and spreading the risk, he said.

As for the continued impacts of the dampened economic climate, Coye said,

“I believe that recovery is coming. It is just going to be slow,” he told us.

We asked Central Bank Governor Glenford Ysaguirre about the consequences of the $33 mil loss of the Belize Bank.

He told us that, “One year of bad performance is not going to jeopardize the future of a bank; what is important is performance trends over a period of time. The continuation or arrest of a bad performance trend will be determined by how aggressive the bank management is in addressing the situation — what managerial action and administrative corrective measures it takes to address the high levels of non-performing loans.”

He said that as the regulator, the Central Bank tries to ensure that banks are on top of the matter and are implementing the appropriate self-cleaning measures; otherwise, the Central Bank issues directives and orders to keep them on a path of prudent management.

The 2010 International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on Belize cited concerns over the high rates of nonperforming loans in the commercial banking sector.

“In the banking system, nonperforming loans have risen sharply in the recent period, while provisioning remains low,” said the IMF.

The IMF directors also said that protecting the stability of the banking system is a priority.

“This will require an agreement on recapitalization plans for a few banks and their early implementation,” it added.


Posted By: PROBUS

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 07/04/11 04:33 PM

Accounts can show whatever result the business wants them to show, and the words "profit" and "loss" need a lot of explanation before they can acquire any meaning.

In the case of retail banking, it has always been a mystery to me why interest rates in Belize are so high, verging on usurous. "As low as 11%" is nonsensical in today's world. I think that is a key reason why people & businesses aren't borrowing - it is just too expensive.
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 07/05/11 01:51 AM

Bywarren ?
Posted By: Indiana-Jones

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 02/21/12 11:36 PM

The question is: Has it recovered to the point of trusting it for deposits?
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 02/22/12 12:54 PM

The question is, Why would anyone use the Belize Bank given its problems when there are much better alternatives? Like for one, a bank that has assets of over 500 billion and does business in 55 countries.

Or, I guess some people do business with the Belize Bank because other banks are not reckless enough to loan money to them. That is why other banks don’t have such a high amount of non-performing loans. And, I guess there are people reckless enough to put their money in the Belize Bank.
Posted By: elbert

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 02/22/12 01:32 PM

bywarren what alternative bank are you referring to?
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 02/22/12 02:09 PM

Here is some info you can use to make your own decisions.
Banks and Banking in Belize

Belize has five commercial banks, not including offshore banks. Three are based in Belize – Alliance Bank, Belize Bank and Atlantic Bank — and two, First Caribbean Bank (formerly Barclays) and ScotiaBank, are large multinational banks with branches in Belize. The local banks are small, about the size of a small-town local bank or savings and loan in the U.S. Belize also has several credit unions and small mortgage lending institutions.

Here are the basic facts, including contact information for the main offices, about each bank in Belize:

Atlantic Bank was founded in 1971. It is majority owned by Sociedad Nacional de Inversiones, S.A., a Honduran company, along with some individual stockholders in Belize and Honduras. Atlantic Bank has 13 offices in Belize — in Corozal, the Corozal Free Zone, Belize City (three offices), International Airport, Belmopan, Ladyville, Caye Caulker, Orange Walk, San Pedro, Placencia and San Ignacio. Main office: Atlantic Building, Freetown Road; tel. 501-223-4123, fax 223-3907; Atlantic Bank’s international banking operation is Atlantic International Bank.

Belize Bank traces its history back to 1902 when it was founded as the Bank of British Honduras. It is owned by BB Holdings, shares of which trade on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange in the United Kingdom under the symbol BBHL. Lord Michael Ashcroft, a British billionaire and Conservative party officer who holds dual citizenship in the UK and Belize, is chairman and a large stockholder in BB Holdings. Belize Bank bills itself as the largest commercial bank in Belize, with assets if around US$440 million, and around 40% share of loans and deposits in Belize. It has 12 offices around the country — in Corozal, the Corozal Free Zone, Orange Walk, International Airport, Belize City (two offices), Belmopan, San Ignacio, San Pedro, Dangriga and Punta Gorda. Main office: 60 Market Square, Belize City; tel. 501-227-7132, fax 227-2712; Belize Bank also has an international banking division, Belize Caribbean International Bank.

First Caribbean International Bank (formerly Barclays) was formed in 2003 by the merger of the Caribbean operations of Barclays, the giant U.K-based financial service firm, and those of another large bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). Operations in 17 Caribbean countries including Belize were rebranded as First Caribbean International Bank. First Caribbean has assets of around US$11 billion. In Belize, First Caribbean has five offices, in Belmopan, Belize City (two), San Pedro and Dangriga. Main office in Belize: Albert Street, Belize City; tel. 501-227-7211, fax 227-8572;

Heritage Bank (formerly Alliance Bank) is the newest of the commercial banks in Belize. It has eight offices -- in Belize City, Belmopan, Caye Caulker, San Pedro, Orange Walk, San Ignacio, Independence and Pomona (near Dangriga). It formerly was associated with Glenn D. Godfrey, a well-connected Belizean businessman and attorney. In 2009, Alliance Bank reportedly was sold to a group of mostly foreign investors from Mexico and the Caribbean. Main Office: 106 Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City; tel.: 501-223-6783, fax 223-6785.

ScotiaBank, formerly Bank of Nova Scotia, is a large Canadian bank with operations in 50 countries and with worldwide assets of more than US$500 billion. In Belize, it has 13 offices -- in Corozal Town, San Pedro, Orange Walk, Belize City (two offices), Belmopan, Spanish Lookout, Placencia, Punta Gorda and Dangriga. Main Belize office: Albert Street, Belize City, tel. 501-227-7027, fax 227-7416;

Posted By: Bear

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 02/22/12 08:47 PM

This 33 million # rings a bell, was there a loan from Venezuela that BB fielded for the GOB or somehting and somehow had to pay back..this is of course all very sketchy
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 02/23/12 01:41 AM

You are close.
Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 02/23/12 11:33 PM

20 mil from Venezuela earmarked for housing for the poor was diverted to Belize Bank in Turks and Caicos to pay for a loan which then PM Said Musa had no legal authority to guarentee for Universal Health Services Hosp (now Belize Health Care Parters) loan from the same bank. Lots of PUP's got rich; the poor never got the housing and us tax payers footed the bill. The BB is fighting this in the Privvy Council in London; one of the reasons we are now using the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice) as our final cout of appeals. Ashcroft has no shame; neither does Said or the investors in the hospital.
Posted By: t42

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 02/24/12 03:10 PM

I thought the Belize Bank when Ashcroft bought it for a buck was the Bank of Canada or some Canadian bank. I remember hearing the story that he actually had to borrow the dollar from a taxi man cause he didn't have any money on him lol Maybe just folklore....
Posted By: Indiana-Jones

Re: Belize Bank loses $33 million - 03/10/12 09:25 PM

Thanks for the responses from everyone who contributed. This thread is very informative.

Anyone know which banks will allow someone to open an account remotely without actually traveling to Belize?

All that money I earned from the Indiana Jones series is truly endangered where it is deposited right now.

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