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Chamber of Commerce expresses concerns over Belize Bank/Scotiabank acquisition

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Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2020. 9:28 am CST.

By BBN Staff: The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) says that it is concerned about the effect that Belize Bank’s buying of Scotiabank (Belize)’s shares will have on customers, and calls on the Central Bank of Belize (CBB) to take necessary steps to protect customers.

Following Monday’s announcement that Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited (CIHL), the parent company of The Belize Bank Limited, would acquire the shares of Scotiabank (Belize) Limited, pending regulatory approval, the BCCI notes that  impact of this transaction will be felt across the entire spectrum of personal and business customers seeking credit, finance, foreign exchange, correspondent bank services, and much more.

“This acquisition leaves 50% of the commercial banking sector under the control of one institution and reduces the number of commercial banks in Belize from five to four,” the BCCI said. “This acquisition highlights the need for the Government to introduce competition laws, to ensure that market dominance will not adversely affect any industry.”

The Chamber called on the Central Bank to: review the acquisition in the context of its impact on the overall banking sector, as well as from a consumer protection standpoint; consider the impact that the loss of Scotiabank (Belize) Limited will have on the country’s stability and it ability to access and maintain correspondent banking relationships; eliminate the risk of anti-competitive behavior by introducing regulations that will limit the percentage of market share that can be held by any one institution; and that the Government of Belize through its investment promoters and other relevant bodies encourages and incentivizes new commercial banking institutions to enter Belize, while the Central Bank opens the market to encourage properly regulated modern alternatives to traditional banking.

The Chamber also noted that its members, the business community, have bore the brunt of international actions such as the severing of correspondent banking relationships as a means of derisking in the fight against money laundering and the subsequent hardships that followed those measures will only worsen if the banking sector continues unchecked on its current path.

 

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