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The $2.2 million banks and trust companies spent on staff training in 2010 does not tell the full story of what's been happening in the industry, with many employees opting to foot the bill to upgrade their skills themselves.
Kim Bodie, executive director of the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services (BIFS) told Guardian Business yesterday that registration numbers at the institute remain strong at around 500 enrollees, despite a noted drop-off in banks' financial support for training.
"From where I sit, particularly since the economic downturn, we have seen some cutbacks by banks in support of training," Bodie said.
"...In consideration of what has happened, persons have taken [their training costs] on themselves. We have not seen a decline in numbers at the institution," Bodie said.
Arawak Port Development (APD) Limited's CEO is questioning The Bahamas' latest ranking in the World Bank's 2014 Ease of Doing Business report, claiming that it fails to provide a true assessment of the country's capabilities and competitiveness.
Michael Maura Jr., head of the company which was formed in 2009 to develop, operate and maintain Nassau's main port, noted that the report could negatively impact the country's reputation as it inaccurately paints the country's port facility as "inefficient".
Yesterday, he expressed particular concern with the section of the report that focused on trading across borders, which noted that The Bahamas has dropped five spots from 67 to 72 in the rankings.
Ninety-five percent of the shipping containers handled at the Nassau Container Port are imports.
According to the widely-read World Bank report, released in October, once a container arrives in Nassau, it takes an average of 13 days for the goods to get to the importer.
Maura emphatically denied this to be true, saying "that just does not happen".
"I could not understand how they came up with their figures and where they got their information from," he said during a press conference at APD's offices at Arawak Cay.
"For the person that knows what they're doing, they can honestly get the cargo off the dock and through Customs in 36 hours. And for the person that is semi-focused on it, it shouldn't take more than three days."
The APD chief revealed that significant delays occur either when bills of lading are not aligned with invoices or if someone does not have the cash flow to pay the import duty.
"If you have a situation where a bill of lading says 'building materials' and the invoice says 'F-150', that does not align. That would cause a delay because Customs would want to do an inspection," according to Maura.
"But when someone is prepared to receive that cargo, they've paid their duties and it's a clean entry in that their bill of lading is said to contain 'building materials' and their invoice says 'doors, nails, joint compound', they align and that's a clean entry."
The report specifically compares The Bahamas with Barbados, comparing the cost of importing a 20-foot FCL (full container load), dry, non-hazardous container at the Nassau Container Port and Barbados Port Inc.
While The Bahamas ranked 72 out of 189 countries in the trading across borders section of the World Bank report, Barbados ranked 30. The report states a cost to import in US dollars, in The Bahamas, of $1,770 in comparison to Barbados that charges $1,615.
Going forward, Maura is encouraging the government to include APD in its research and information that is presented to the World Bank to ensure that the bank's information is "relevant and factual".
"We are far better than what we are being portrayed to be," he added.
"A truer assessment of The Bahamas' trading across borders capability will positively influence consumer and investor confidence in the market."
Overall, The Bahamas ranks 84th in the Ease of Doing Business report.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has asked banks to accept money for a public Haiti fund.
Prime Minister Ingraham said the government asked Clearing Banks (see list below) to accept donations into a special account for Emergency and Reconstruction Assistance to Haiti.
Scotiabank is a proud platinum sponsor of The Bahamas AIDS Foundation’s Red Ribbon Ball slated for this coming weekend under the theme, “Winter in Paradise”...
For many children, Christmas time conjures up images of a mountain of gifts under their Christmas tree with many toys and treats inside.
But for countless others, receiving even one gift on this special holiday is cause for joy and celebration.
Such is the thought behind the latest charity drive by the Kiwanis Club of Nassau A.M. - Toys for Tots - which aims to provide Christmas gifts to children in the Bain and Grants Town areas this holiday.
The brainchild of Natila Saunders, director and Young Children Priority One chairperson of the Kiwanis Club of Nassau A.M., Toys for Tots encourages members of the public to donate one unwrapped gift to touch the life of one less fortunate child in the community.
Many individual acts of kindness will go a long way collectively - in fact, Saunders hopes to reach as many as 500 families this year.
"I know it sounds ambitious, but I think it's very easy to do that and even more," she said. "We're trying to get as many donations as possible so we can give them the Christmas that they deserve."
As part of the service organization Kiwanis Club of Nassau A.M., Saunders has been involved with many programs that aim to provide food and clothing to those less fortunate, especially in the Bain and Grants Town areas.
Last year, when the organization undertook a major service project assisting two families, the reaction by the children to the toys they donated made an impression on Saunders and inspired her to establish Toys for Tots.
"You should have seen the joy on the children's faces - they were elated," she remembered. "So I just wanted to do something that could touch even more children."
Partnering up with Bank of The Bahamas is perfect for Kiwanis Club as an organization that gives back to the less fortunate. Bank of The Bahamas employees dedicate their time to causes that are close to their hearts and which change the lives of others - and this program is no different.
All Bank of The Bahamas branches will be gift drop-off points during weekday business hours, as well as on Saturdays at the Harrold Road and Village Road branches which are open from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"I wasn't even expecting it to be this major but I'm really thankful because with Bank of The Bahamas as a partner, I'm sure it's going to have an even greater impact," said Saunders.
Once the drive closes on December 21, Bank of The Bahamas employees and Kiwanis members will sort the gifts and on Christmas Day will venture into the neighborhoods and provide them to the children and their families to make their holiday unforgettable.
Indeed, the drive taps into the true spirit of Christmas that encourages charity, selflessness and giving above receiving. Above all, it encourages the community to come together to uplift those who really need it during this time of year when disparity and lack become more apparent and difficult to handle.
"It shows the children that we actually care, to have complete strangers come into the neighborhood to do something for them," pointed out Saunders. "It's more special knowing that we go there on Christmas Day and they have something to look forward to on that special day."
They are appealing to the public to donate any gift at the Bank of The Bahamas branches until December 21, whether books, stuffed animals, board games, dolls, actions figures - anything will make a difference, insisted Saunders.
"We're asking for the public to respond to this very important project," she said. "It doesn't require much. No gift is too big or too small, and we'd appreciate anything because it will go a very, very long way."
UBS Bahamas Limited is "winding down" the banking side of its operations over the next year, but maintains it is not leaving The Bahamas and is committed to doing business here, according to UBS Head of Latin America and the Caribbean Gabriel Castello...
MINISTRY OF FINANCE FEES PAYABLE BY RETAIL BANKS for 2009/2010 and 2010/2011.
Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash revealed yesterday that police returned his cell phone and laptops not long after seizing them three weeks ago, but said he has refused to use them because he suspects they have been bugged.
"The phone was returned the following day and the laptops were returned three or four days later," Cash told The Nassau Guardian.
"I have not used the instruments to any meaningful degree because I fully expect that they have been laden with spyware."
Police seized the items from the chairman's Cable Beach home on May 1 as a part of a probe into confidential leaks from Bank of The Bahamas.
Speaking to the issue yesterday, Cash said, "I have since this event detected numerous unusual events in my email account, and I intend to raise those issues with my service provider.
"Suffice it to say that nine of 10 persons that I spoke to during this entire event opined that all instruments ought to be immediately discarded and it is troubling the extent of distrust that exists, but obviously it is not something that the commissioner or the ministers of national security care about.
"That is to be expected and so often they speak, and people do not believe what they are saying. It is as simple as the statistics that they release on a regular basis that people don't believe. They are distrustful of their institutions and that is not good for our democracy."
Police have not charged Cash or anybody else in relation to the Bank of the Bahamas probe. They also have not said whether they found anything on Cash's equipment.
The Nassau Guardian was told by a senior police official that only Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson could comment on the matter, but Ferguson has been unreachable.
"I'm now wondering why there has been no action because whatever it is they were looking for, they didn't find it," Cash said. "Not only was there not a smoking gun, there was no gun."
Asked about his exchange with police at the time the items were being returned, Cash said, "We engaged in unproductive banter".
He said he expressed to police that as far as he could see they were doing nothing to investigate underlying allegations made by The Punch about certain activities at the bank.
Bank of The Bahamas officials have strongly denied allegations that loans were granted based on political favors or that the bank's financial position is under threat.
Earlier this year, Cash called for an investigation into the allegations made by The Punch.
Following the seizure of his property, Cash sought redress in the Supreme Court, alleging that his constitutional right to privacy had been violated.
He has made two appearances already before a judge.
Asked why he still pursued the legal matter even though the items were returned, he said, "Fundamental to the point that we made is if there was a narrow scope of the police's investigation, meaning Bank of The Bahamas, the scope of their search should have been equally narrow".
Cash said he was not surprised that he got his items back so soon.
"This is the information age and any competent 10th grader knows how to conduct a search, and so that is the same reason why nearly one month later it hasn't surprised me that we haven't heard back from them to confirm that there was nothing there," he said, adding that he fears information relating to his party might have been shared with others.
"And the easiest way to do that was to find a scapegoat with a mere tangential connection to the information that was disclosed in The Punch, someone who didn't have direct access or even indirect access to the information. The only connection was [my wife] happened to work for the same organization."
Cash said his wife, Annette, remains on paid leave.
He insisted that the whole matter goes to the heart of trust in democratic institutions.
"The nature of society that [Prime Minister] Perry Christie has produced is one where people distrust their government, and they distrust the police. And this matter is far from over," he said.
"That's all I'm prepared to say right now."
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Royal Bank of Canada's decision to convert its Bahamian banking operation into a subsidiary of the Canadian parent resulted in a "one-off inflow" that further boosted banking system liquidity and the external reserves, which hit $876 million at end-November 2010, amid improved economic prospects for 2011.
The Central Bank of the Bahamas' monthly report on economic and financial developments for November 2010, noting the temporary boost to foreign exchange reserves, said the Bahamian economy continued to show signs of stabilising amid a "modest improvement" in the tourism industry.
This meant that the economy's short-term prospe ...
Profitability for local banks increased 34 percent to $62.3 million according to the latest quarterly report from the Central Bank of The Bahamas, with the former minister of finance saying more loan payments by customers could have been a contributing factor.
James Smith told Guardian Business yesterday that clients that are making more payments played a role in the growth in banks’ profit rise, along with other factors.
“The banks are probably getting bigger spreads now,” Smith said. “Customers are probably paying a little bit less on deposits and a little more on loans. Bad loans were providing for them but in spite of that they are still doing quite well wit ...
Top banking leaders have submitted recommendations for the Borrowers' Protection Bill and more consultation is expected before legislation finds its way into the House of Assembly.
Kevin Teslyk, managing director at Scotiabank (Bahamas) Limited, said the key piece of legislation is under "active development". As exclusively revealed by Guardian Business in August, the Borrowers' Protection Bill would provide the Supreme Court with significant powers to rule on mortgage loans.
Most notably, under the original bill the court can grant relief to the borrower from consequences of a breach of covenant or the non-payment or interest of a loan, placing private institutions on potentially unsteady financial footing.
Teslyk confirmed that other stakeholders, such as the Bahamas Bar Association, are also reviewing the legislation for final consideration to government. Not only is the banking sector seeking certain amendments, but also the possible formation of a specific board to be their voice in the legal forum.
Noting that it is important to have "experience at that table", the Scotiabank executive said dedicated individuals are needed so these matters do not get "wrapped up in other matters in the courts".
Teslyk spoke candidly on the real concerns within the banking community regarding the Borrowers' Protection Bill.
"There are two fundamental areas of concern. The first is the time to process, table and make an application to hear and decide on a particular situation. Given the number of mortgages experiencing stress, that could create some pretty daunting duties. So that is a concern or all of us," he said.
The second is the language embedded within the bill. Under the original draft, it is unclear just how much power and control the courts could hold over loans. Teslyk said it doesn't give "clarity of purpose to an industry or organization going forward".
Turning to the homeowner market in general terms, Scotiabank (Bahamas) expressed a very similar outlook to other institutions, namely that the poor economy and unemployment are unlikely to change anytime soon.
What has been required is a "very frank discussion" with clients and indeed a "change in lifestyle" for some Bahamians. Meanwhile, he acknowledged that there is essentially "no market" for new homeowners, as a new sense of reality settles in.
The institution is looking at a number of new initiatives in 2013 to help new and existing homeowners deal with expenses and debt obligations. One idea is the creation of a special escrow account specifically to service insurance payments. This service, working with the insurance provider, would be bundled into mortgage payments, placing less stress on homeowners.
Teslyk told Guardian Business that the bank is also interested in salary deduction solutions, whereby a pre-organized arrangement is set up between the borrower and the employer.
Combined with the formation of a credit bureau in 2013, the managing director said The Bahamas' rough experience as a result of the financial crisis has a silver lining, in the sense it is forcing institutions and consumers to reevaluate best practice for a more stable economy.
The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) is "a Bahamian company", according to its non-executive chairman, and the appointment of its latest board member is a commitment to the country.
Adrian Collins told Guardian Business from the United Kingdom that bringing in Ross McDonald, a seasoned executive in The Bahamas, will provide much-needed "balance" to the board of directors. With a formal meeting once every quarter, this body is in constant contact with BPC executives to provide guidance on the direction of the company.
McDonald, most recently senior vice president and head of Caribbean Banking for Royal Bank of Canada, brings to the table decades of banking and finance experience, Collins added.
McDonald is also a director at Royal Fidelity Merchant Bank & Trust.
Collins told Guardian Business he will play a crucial role in many respects, including BPC's recent collaboration with RoyalFidelity Capital Markets to bring about a Bahamian Depository Receipt (BDR) and a Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) listing.
"At the end of the day, the listing is looking out for The Bahamas. It should be there. It should be listing there and people should be able to buy shares of the company as Bahamians. It's what we hope happens."
The Collins was uncertain when the listing would be completed.
In regard to McDonald's appointment, he explained that BPC was keen to incorporate someone with experience and strong roots in the country.
"It's a Bahamian company. We want to be seen that way. It provides balance for the board and if we can get everything done, it's a real game changer for The Bahamas. It's important to have Bahamians be part of that process."
McDonald is also currently a director of RBC Financial (Caribbean) Limited, RBC's group holding company in the Caribbean; RBC Royal Bank (Bahamas) Limited, RBC's commercial bank in The Bahamas; RBC FINCO and RBC's mortgage banking company in The Bahamas.
Collins noted that McDonald's considerable experience and the respect he has garnered in the country will assist BPC.
Dursley Stott, a non-executive director, will step down from the board at the end of this month.
CelePay, the Bahamian-owned company that allows users to transfer money using only their cell phones, is very close to signing on a banking partner - a key step to the concept going mainstream.
Founded by six Bahamian investors, the $500,000 start-up also plans to sell cash cards on the street so customers can purchase BTC minutes.
Byron Fawknotson, the CEO of CelePay, said both of these steps will help bring the service to the masses.
"Beginning this week, CelePay is going to make sure you can buy BTC minutes directly on your phone," he said. "All you have to do is load money on the phone and request the minutes. We are also in discussions with a banking partner."
The fledging company is also in discussions with the Central Bank, Fawknotson added, to ensure the platform meets regulatory standards. CelePay is just coming off its testing phase with College of the Bahamas (COB), where the founders engaged more than 400 students and gave away $3,000 so they could test-drive the service.
"There was clearly tremendous interest there," he told Guardian Business.
"We expect over the next six months we'll have at least 10,000 on the system once the trial period is done."
And as one test run at COB ends, another is set to begin.
Fawknotson said, together with a local radio station 94FM, CelePay plans to give away $25,000 this week through a game show whereby they win money for their cell-phone accounts.
"We're basically giving away $25,000 and saying to people that using your phone to deal with money and drive commerce is the future," he explained.
Whereas at the moment CelePay is not linked with bank accounts, that will soon change, he said. Right now, customers can send a maximum of $300 to other cell phones through the CelePay network. The company takes 1 percent of the total amount for the service.
Text message money transfers is a trend catching out elsewhere in the world.
In The Philippines, a country of nearly 90 million people and more than 7,000 islands, the technology is especially useful. Similarly, The Bahamas could greatly benefit from the service as transactions go back and forth between the islands.
Going forward, CelePay hopes to link the cell phone transfers directly with bank accounts, bringing much greater efficiency to the current banking system.
Bahamian commercial banks collectively wrote-off $45 million in loans during the first four months of 2011, data published yesterday by the Central Bank of the Bahamas revealed, with industry loan loss provisions hitting $284.7 million.
The Central Bank's monthly report on economic developments for April showed that the commercial banks increased loan loss provisions by $11.3 million during that month, increasing their ratio to total credit arrears and non-performing loans to 24.3 per cent and 42.1 per cent, respectively.
The banking industry write-off a further $12.7 million in delinquent loans during April, bringing this total to $45 million. ...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Following the success of the 2012 Nassau Conference, held October 10, 2012, the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies (AIBT) has once again partnered with the Ministry of Financial Services and The College of The Bahamas (COB) to launch the 2013 Nassau Conference Essay Competition, leading in to this year's event.
At the 2012 Nassau Conference, AIBT selected ten students who will, this summer, be engaged in a six-week paid internship at the following member companies:
o Corner Bank & Trust Ltd.
o Credit Suisse AG Trust Ltd.
o Pictet Bank & Trust Ltd.
o Societe General Private Banking (Bahamas) Ltd
o The Private Trust Corporation Ltd.
o The St. James Bank & Trust (Bahamas) Ltd.
o The Winterbotham Trust Company Ltd.
o UBS (Bahamas) Ltd.
o The Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company (Bahamas) Ltd.
A protocol workshop for the students will be conducted prior to the start of the internships, covering the soft skills required to prepare them for successful engagements with the companies and position them to get the most out of the program.
For this year's essay competition, COB will provide a list of twenty one students across academic disciplines in banking, financial services and related fields of study, who will be invited to submit a 500-word essay on the 2013 conference theme "The shift has occurred. How are you positioned?"
A selection committee will interview each of the short-listed candidates, rate their essays and consider other criteria including community involvement, special interests and extracurricular activities. A total of ten students will be chosen to attend the 2013 Nassau Conference and participate in the 2014 summer Internships. Further, two students will be selected to attend a Spanish Language Emersion Programme in Mexico sponsored by the AIBT.
"This is an opportunity for students to not only experience a world-class conference, but also to gain valuable real-world experience and skills," said Antoinette Russell, Nassau Conference chairperson and deputy chair of AIBT, the founding sponsor of The Nassau Conference. She added: "The conference and the related AIBT efforts continue to expose the next generation of leaders to this dynamic and vital sector and help continue the country's leadership as a financial services center.
"This initiative underscores the ongoing commitment of AIBT, and its members and partners, to the continued growth of the sector by promoting the development of the next generation of leaders and industry professionals."
By REUBEN SHEARER
Tribune Staff Reporter
ROYAL Bank of Canada's domestic retail and commercial banking operations conducted through its branch network in the Bahamas will be transferred to a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada, which is headquartered in Toronto, named RBC Royal Bank (Bahamas) Limited.
The business will now be operated under the brand name RBC Royal Bank, it was announced this week.
RBC Royal Bank (Bahamas) Limited was incorporated under the laws of the Bahamas and will be licensed by the Central Bank of the Bahamas.
RBC has had a presence in the Bahamas since 1908 and said it is committed to expanding its presence in the ...
For decades the Central Bank of the Bahamas has been providing a platform for emerging artists to display their work in their Annual Art Competition and Exhibition, and this year, much of the work on display went beyond still life.The Central Bank Art Competition and Exhibition in the High School Category recognizes and celebrates the artistic talents of Bahamian youth. This past Wednesday the exhibition opened to the public and the winners were recognized for their outstanding contributions.
Speaking at the event last night, now in its 28th year, Governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas Wendy Craigg pointed out that the event continues to predict great future artists in the Bahamian community as well as encourage creativity and foster a love of the arts in this emerging generation.
"We know that children benefit from encouragement and support, and what we continue to accomplish through this competition is to nurture our children's creativity, imagination and innovation and advance their capabilities so that they develop personally and socially and through their artistic impressions, offer insights into our world,"she says.
"From the works displayed here today, we can certainly feel a sense of pride. It seems to be that the level of work is excellent."
Indeed, one of the official judges, John Cox, said he was encouraged by the level and quality of work on display. Like the governor, he also pointed out that teachers, parents and institutions like the Central Bank deserve to be thanked for their encouragement.
"Artists don't really come out of a vacuum, artists really come out of a strong fabric of creators and thinkers and people who encourage them and give them proper guidance," he said.
"The conversations in this work definitely reflect beyond being a competent artist who can make colors and render something to look like something else," he continued. "Obviously these artists have really internalized their environments and they brought them forward in these mediums, and it's very encouraging to see that level of visual intelligence."
The words rang true especially as the winner this year, Kenel Augustin, was part of the National Art & Craft Center under the Department of Education, which provided him with afterschool classes in which to develop his artistic practice.
"I really think the school supported me and helped me with my pieces and confidence and just to express my talent," he says, thanking especially his teacher Timothy Nottage.
For Augustin, who is in the eleventh grade at C.I. Gibson and hopes to study art after high school, painting is a way to share a message with society. His winning painting, "Bain Town Riot" displays an acute sense of social consciousness.
"I think people aren't supposed to be fighting and rioting all over the place, so I did this piece to show people that it is not always about violence and causing crime and destructiveness in the world," he explains.
Second place went to Bobby Telusnord (C.I. Gibson) with his piece "A Good Time" and third place went to Maudeline Alcy (C.I. Gibson) with "Fire in Mackey Yard".
Honorable mentions were Daniel Morley (Queen's College) with "Mixed Fantasy"; Krystal Major (C.I. Gibson) with "Amos Ferguson"; and Cameron Johnson (Temple Christian) with "Annabelle's Straw Shop".
The Best Young Artist (14 years old and younger) went to Lex Fountain (Mt. Carmel Preparatory) with his piece "Saxing with Sonny Rollins". The Scholarship Award was given to Alton Joseph (C.R. Walker) for his piece "Untitled". The Governor General's Award was given to Kirkwood Deal (Kingsway Academy) with "Who Are We?".
The exhibition which includes all of the winning pieces, is up until the end of November at The Central Bank of The Bahamas. Hours are 9 a.m. 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
For more photos of the opening reception and awards ceremony, check out our online gallery at www.thenassauguardian.com.
Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis last night accused the government of directing the police to carry out a "political witch-hunt" on FNM Chairman Darron Cash because of his recent critique of "evolving scandals" surrounding Bank of The Bahamas.
Minnis said the FNM will not sit back and allow the state to subject Cash to a "fishing expedition".
"The matter has been taken to the Supreme Court and we await the court's ruling," said Minnis during a press briefing following an emergency FNM meeting at the party's Mackey Street headquarters.
The meeting came hours after three police officers showed up at Cash's Cable Beach home with a warrant and seized two laptops and a smartphone, reportedly as part of a probe into the alleged leak of confidential information from Bank of The Bahamas.
"The FNM will not stand for the apparent political assault on its national chairman, which is purely a smoke screen and deflection away from the very real, pressing and serious issue and chronic problems facing our nation," Minnis said last night. "...Democracy is under siege and we will not be silenced."
Attorney Carl Bethel, who represents Cash, told The Guardian that he filed a notice of originating motion in the Supreme Court yesterday, which will begin the process of determining whether the police followed lawful protocol in the execution of their duties.
Cash has spoken out on several matters related to BOB in the last several months.
He released a series of press statements on issues regarding the bank.
In one of those statements, he raised concerns about reports that the bank was being used as a political tool and called for a select committee to be established in the House of Assembly to scrutinize the extent to which public funds are at risk at BOB.
Both Prime Minister Perry Christie and BOB Managing Director Paul McWeeney strongly denied that the bank's funds were at risk.
BOB pledged to sue The Punch newspaper, which has repeatedly made these allegations at the bank, and it announced several weeks ago that it was investigating the leak.
Last night, Minnis said Cash was merely calling attention to an issue that was already in the public domain.
"The lapses and failures of the present government to investigate and correct the apparent abuses and negligence of the Bank of the Bahamas is shameful and has been properly criticized and highlighted by our national chairman, but also by others who made disclosure to newspapers," Minnis said.
"Is our chairman being targeted because he has been a passionate critic of the government's inept handling of the Bank of the Bahamas and because his wife happens to work at the institution?"
Minnis said the whole matter is a gross invasion of Cash's privacy.
The Nassau Conference, the annual professional development conference presented by the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies in The Bahamas (AIBT)...
LONG ISLAND, Bahamas -- Scotiabank today reported an armed robbery at its Stella Maris branch in Long Island. The Bank reported that on Thursday, May 31, 2012 at about 10:30 a.m., the Bank was robbed by two armed robbers of an undetermined amount of cash. Bank management have confirmed that there were no injuries sustained by staff or customers.
"Due to the nature of our business, a robbery is always a possibility. But, we assure the public of our commitment to security and to the safety of our customers and employees. We are working with the Royal Bahamas Police Force in their investigation of this matter." Bank operations in the Stella Maris branch were suspended for the day and normal banking are operations expected to resume next Monday, June 4, 2012.
Two gunmen burst into the Bank of The Bahamas International branch on East Bay Street shortly after it opened, a Supreme Court jury heard.
Prosecutors yesterday opened their case against Dwayne Henderson, James Miller, Sean Lightbourne and Jamal Armbrister who are accused of the January 27, 2003 holdup.
According to the prosecution, the men conspired to commit the robbery and took $18,452.01 and $7,125.25 from two bank employees.
Miller faces a separate count of receiving $5,380 in stolen cash.
Security guard Edmond Collins testified that he hesitated when a man wearing a tam, camouflage jacket and jeans appeared at the door shortly after 10 a.m.
Collins said the man appeared suspicious. Moments after Collins buzzed the door for the man, he put a gun to his head and took him in the bank towards the teller pool, the court heard.
According to Collins, another man appeared at the same time. He said the second man jumped over the counter.
Christopher Ferguson, who worked as a teller, told the jury that a gunman brought the security guard into the bank.
He said a second man placed a gun to his head and ordered him to put money in a pillowcase. Ferguson said he complied with the robber's demand. He said his cash till contained $50 and $100 notes as well as loose change.
According to Ferguson, both men had their faces concealed by wearing masks.
The case continues on Friday before Justice Roy Jones.
Murrio Ducille represents Lightbourne and Henderson. Perry Albury appears for Armbrister, and Dorsey McPhee appears for Miller.
Kristan Stubbs and Aaron Johnson are the prosecutors.
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Bahamians will be able to access free HIV testing in Rawson Square this Friday through a partnership between Scotiabank and the Ministry of Health in observation of Regional HIV Testing Day 2011. This initiative is a part of a regional program organized by the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership (CBMP) who will host testing events at Scotiabank branches in fourteen countries across the Caribbean. HIV Testing Day takes place on Friday, June 24 at Rawson Square north from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"Scotiabank is pleased to partner with Ministry of Health and the National AIDS Programme to help heighten public interest in HIV testing," said Leah R. Davis, Senior Manager Marketing & Public Relations, Scotiabank. "Supporting the growing program is part our ongoing commitment to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas." She stressed, "We are relying on the participation of community leaders to demonstrate the importance of being tested, knowing your status in order to join the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS."
Regional Testing Day has expanded from its pilot program three years ago. In 2008, the CBMP on HIV/AIDS and Scotiabank in collaboration with regional Ministries of Health piloted the Caribbean's first Regional HIV Testing Day in Barbados. This year, the first for The Bahamas, it is expected that 10,000 people will be tested across the region, improving on slightly more than 8,400 persons recorded in 2010 and approximately 5,000 in 2009.
Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Chairman Gowon Bowe has stated that the recent Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) "bailout" could have "broad ramifications" for the country if not handled effectively.
Bowe told Guardian Business that the restructuring of BOB, which resulted in the government transferring $100 million of "bad" debt to new government entity Bahamas Resolve Ltd., revealed some weaknesses in the system.
"From the chamber's perspective, this is something that highlights the need for a fiscal responsibility act. The Bank of The Bahamas situation is certainly going to be a learning experience for the country, because it has very broad ramifications," said Bowe.
The government effectively issued $100 million in bad loans to Bahamas Resolve, which is owned by BOB's existing shareholders. The loans are currently valued at $45 million, based on their book value.
"If it is dealt with in a positive manner and has strong resolution, it will bode well for our ability to deal with other circumstances that will naturally come about.
"But if it's not dealt with in a very effective manner, unfortunately this could have very broad ramifications for the country and for the whole concept of Bahamianization, entrepreneurship and accountability," stated Bowe.
BOB's loan loss provisions resulted in the bank losing $66 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014.
Credit ratings agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) yesterday issued a report stating that the "bailout" was "symptomatic" of the country's "little to no growth" since the 2008 recession.
While the report notes that BOB's performance was not representative of the local banking system, it highlights the high rate of nonperforming loans, which came in at 17 percent.
Bowe noted that Bahamas Resolve faces considerable difficulty collecting from its troubled commercial assets.
"If these are loans or businesses that are either defunct or are now no longer in operation, the ability to collect is really going to be limited to the actual collateral that's available and any personal guarantees that are issued by individuals, which is going to be very challenging," said Bowe.
Two financial experts said The Bahamas won't be impacted by Cyprus' financial crisis, but the country should monitor the situation closely. Eurozone finance ministers agreed yesterday to a $10 billion euro bailout for Cyprus in an effort to prevent the collapse of its banking system and keep the country in the...
A recent report from The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBB) for June indicates "mild economic momentum" in the domestic economy and a reduced government deficit, while issues continued to plague the mortgage and loan market. CBB released its Economic and Financial Developments report for the month of June 2014 on Monday, which shows mildly positive growth for the local economy and a decrease in the deficit supported by modest gains in tourism output, stable foreign investment-led project activity and declining unemployment rates over the past six months. The report argues that further improvement in the government's deficit hinged on the pace of the economic recovery and government expanding into other sectors, citing the upcoming implementation of a value-added tax (VAT) as a significant revenue generating measure for the government. "Additional revenue gains should also accrue from the successful implementation of several new measures -- the most significant of which is the [VAT]," reads the report. The report also suggests that inflation remained "relatively benign", despite rising energy costs, stating: "In the near-term, domestic inflation is poised to remain benign, although on-going instability in several oil producing markets could lead to higher international oil prices over the medium term, which could exert upward pressure on local energy costs."June saw an increase in people defaulting on their loans. Total private sector loan delinquencies grew by $20.2 million (1.5 percent), up to $1,359.5 million. Delinquencies in the short-term, 31-90 day segment, grew by $8.7 million (2.5 percent) to $359.1 million. The value of arrears in excess of 90 days also grew $11.5 million (1.2 percent) to $1 billion.However, mortgage woes proved particularly discouraging, with growth in total mortgage delinquencies expanding by $9.8 million (1.4 percent) to $725 million, as both the short-term and non-performing segments grew by $6.3 million (3.3 percent) and $3.5 million (0.7 percent), respectively. "Consumer arrears also rose, by $6.1 million (2.4 percent) to $266.8 million, due to a $3.9 million (4.4 percent) increase in 31-90 day delinquencies and a $2.2 million (1.3 percent) rise in non-accrual loans. The commercial component advanced by $4.2 million (1.2 percent) to $367.7 million, as the $5.7 million (2.0 percent) increase in the non-performing category, outpaced the $1.5 million (2.1 percent) decline in short-term delinquencies," says the report. Banks increased their loan loss provisions, by $51 million (9.8 percent), to $568.8 million due to the continued deterioration in credit quality. Because of this, the ratio of provisions to both arrears and non-performing loans grew to 41.8 percent and 56.9 percent, respectively. Banks also wrote-off approximately $7.1 million in delinquent loans, and recovered an estimated $3.4 million. CBB reported that amid concerns surrounding weak employment numbers and business conditions, credit to the private sector fell during the month by $34.1 million, below the prior year's $64.4 million contraction. Mortgages also declined by $11.0 million to $31.7 million. However, consumer credit recovered by $8.6 million, from a $23.8 million reduction last year.CBB ultimately noted that its policies remained largely unchanged, given the mild improvements to the economy.
PRIME Minister Perry Christie's bid to assist embattled tax consultant Ishmael Lightbourne has not threatened the integrity of the banking industry, according to RBC Bahamas managing director Nathaniel Beneby...