Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne is warning OECS countries facilitating the sale of Scotia Bank branches to Trinidad-based republic financial holdings limited, that they could lose out in the long run.
His warnings come after a bid for a 40 percent stake in the Scotia Bank branch in Antigua fell through.
Back in 2018 it was announced that Republic Bank will purchase ownership of Scotia Bank in the Eastern Caribbean, pending regulatory approvals.
Gaston Browne is now concerned with the Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Limited taking ownership of the Scotia Banks in the OECS countries.
He spoke on could happen if this becomes a reality.
“Not only you would not have corresponding banking but you would lose it, so if for example Republic Bank comes in and they pick up the largest branch; cause Scotia Bank is the largest entity on island, they have about 1.3 billion dollars in assets and the most profitable bank too. So, what will happen is that Republic Bank will have 1.3 billion in assets, if anything goes wrong with these smaller domestic banks, Republic Bank will buy them up and if I know Republic Bank they are predators so you have to understand that they’re also predatory in their behaviour and they’ll buy out all the banks and then you end up with one bank. Now if you end up with one bank, what do you think will happen? The hundred plus million dollars in profits going to Trinidad and Tobago.”
Prime Minister Browne said that this acquisition poses a number of threats to the OECS islands.
“They have creative ways to move foreign currency out of the country so you cannot underestimate the fact too that there can be a foreign currency drift considering the situation in Trinidad and Tobago where they have a foreign currency problem for several years now so that represents a risk to us.”
The Antiguan government was hoping to have a 40 per cent stake in the Scotia Bank branch in Antigua, by partnering with Republic Bank to purchase the branch.