As of July 30th, Atlantic Bank broke banking relationships with the Bank of America which means then that since that date Atlantic Bank customers cannot conduct international banking transactions. It is part of a de-risking strategy forced on the United States of America banking industry by federal regulators and Atlantic is the second bank in Belize to undergo this process. On April 30th of this year, the Bank of Belize broke ties with the Bank of America. Banking services such as Wire Transfers, USD Bank Drafts and Foreign Currency will be affected for Atlantic Bank customers. In its press release issued on the bank website, the bank officials stated that they would be informing customers of option available for the movement of both incoming and outgoing wires. The issue is not only affecting Belize but several other countries in the Eastern Caribbean. In an interview with the press, Prime Minister Dean Barrow spoke on the matter.
Honorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize
“It is unfortunate but the International Banks are in fact as we said to you de-risking that is the term that is used in the sector and it is happening to small jurisdictions all over the place, again, with the termination of the relationship with respect to Atlantic it is only on the international banking side so the domestic bank certainly as of now it is not affected apart from de-risking I’ve said for some time now that the large jurisdictions are determined to destroy the offshore sector in small countries like Belize they say that it is harmful tax competition, that it gives their nationalist a chance to put their monies in jurisdictions like Belize and avoid paying taxes to them, that one is inevitable, I think that there is a great deal of hypocrisy on the part of the countries but I have made up my mind that that is inevitable but that is far more concern about the domestic banks and when they have their correspondent banking relationship terminated thankfully up until this point in time is it only the Belize Bank on the domestic side that has had that termination so I will continue to hope that it is contained and that it won’t go beyond the Belize bank on the domestic side.”
The Bank of America is the second largest bank in the United States and held correspondence with several Caribbean banks. According to a US Department of State International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, over 60 countries (including several jurisdictions in the Caribbean region) were identified as ‘countries of primary concern’ for money laundering and financial crimes. That list includes banks in Belize and according to Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Eric Eusey, the break is being done as a means to safeguard US assets.
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