WILLEMSTAD – In a letter to the Interim President of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten, Mrs. Leila Matroos-Lasten, the Association of International Bankers in Curaçao (IBA) files a formal complaint against the closing of local bank accounts their IBA Members.
According to the IBA board, some of their members expressed their concerns recently about the fact that a domestic commercial bank, the Maduro & Curiel’s Bank, has given notice of termination of the banking relationship to several their members. This will bring these IBA members in the position that they will not have local bank accounts. The result is that it will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the international banks to operate in Curaçao.
“You reiterated that the Central Bank is for financial inclusion and invited the members concerned to send a former complaint to the Central Bank. You have also indicated that IBA as the representative organization of the international banks can file the formal complaint regarding letters received by our members form a domestic commercial bank in which notice was given of the closure of bank accounts and the termination of other services and agreements, as well as the fact that a very short and unreasonable notice period has been taken into account,” said the IBA board in their letter.
The letter also says that the members know that the commercial bank has the contractual possibility to terminate an agreement with one of its clients, they still have doubts on the validity of such termination which must also be judged based on the principles of reasonableness and fairness. According to the IBA, the termination of a banking relationship with a client by a bank is not valid if using the contractual authority to terminate such relationship under the circumstances of the case, is not acceptable based on aforementioned principles.
“By terminating the banking relationship, a domestic commercial bank is acting against its duty of care and is not taking the interests of the members, as its clients, into account,” said the IBA in their letter.
The termination letter does not mention any compelling reason for the termination and certainly not for having to do so on such short notice. In an investigation done by Curaçao Chronicle it became clear that the only reason given is that the risk appetite has changed.
The consequences for the international banks on the island are far-reaching since they use the bank accounts with the local banks to pay salaries to their employees, taxes and social premiums and make payments to their local vendors.
The IBA request the Central Bank to exercise its authority to prevent the closure of the bank accounts of the members until an alternative solution is found.