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Atlantic International Bank Limited may be facing closure

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Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2019. 4:51 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Named in a U.S. civil complaint in 2018 related to an apparent real estate scam, Atlantic International Bank Limited located in Belize City could be headed for a shutdown.

BBN understands that employees have been told that the bank could be shutting down immediately at the behest of the Central Bank of Belize and its owners have voluntarily agreed to do so.

In November, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission intervened to shut down the ‘Sanctuary Belize’ group of companies. Founder Andris Pukke and others are accused of siphoning millions of dollars from North Americans who wished to build homes in Belize, in the area of the Sittee River Wildlife Preserve. The privately owned company operating in the area was once represented by Barrow and Williams, but the Prime Minister denied any wrongdoing on behalf of his law firm in November.

   The Prime Minister called it “extremely worrying” that Atlantic International’s name had been called, but insisted that in his view and that of the Central Bank, no “infection” would spread to the rest of the banking system.

   Denying the FTC’s charge that it assisted or facilitated the deceptive practice of Pukke and his associates as developers, Atlantic International in a statement at the time said, “AIBL enjoys a record as a good corporate citizen and trusted partner to its primary non-resident customer base. A.I.B.L. has worked tirelessly to develop its reputation as a sound and responsible partner in Belize development.”

   In February the European Union and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) moved to blacklist Belize for condoning harmful tax practices by offshore companies such as Atlantic International, despite Belize’s efforts to legislate against same over the last few years.

   It should be noted that Atlantic International shares no ties with Atlantic Bank Limited, one of the “Big Four” of Belizean domestic banks.

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