While the Government of Antigua & Barbuda has invited Scotiabank to discuss selling its Antigua facility to a "consortium" of local businessmen and bankers, don't hold your breath. The bank is not likely to accept their offer to enter into negotiations to sell to locals.
First of all, Scotiabank has already signed an agreement to sell all its East Caribbean facilities to Republic Bank, of Trinidad & Tobago. While it is subject to regulatory approval, at all levels, it is final.
Second, any agreement, to sell the bank's Antigua branch to a local group poses a real risk for Scotiabank. Antigua is, like it or not, home to foreign financial criminals, corrupt PEPs cleverly hiding stolen money diverted from official treasuries, money launderers, Venezuelan bulk cash smugglers, and assorted usual suspects. If Scotiabank sells its branch, and its existing premium clients, to a dodgy local group, it risks massive lawsuits from those customers if the new owners welcome dirty money, drive the bank into insolvency, regulatory trouble, or criminal charges. The local power elite in Antigua wants those good customers, and their deposits and business lines, in their sleazy hands. This will most likely not happen.
In the even that Antigua's leaders torpedo the Scotiabank sale to Republic Bank, to force a sale to local elements, expect Scotia to close its branch, rather than give in to what amounts to blackmail. If that happens, Antigua's already poor international reputation among financial institutions, already reeling from the CBI passport scandal, will decline further, and there will be more De-Risking losses of correspondent accounts in the US & Canada.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant