Wednesday, September 7, 2022



As of January 31, 2022 First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) will be closed. Over 20 staff members will be out of a job and the already frail financial sector will be left with only two banks on island, one   independent foreign bank and the National Bank of Dominica (NBD) which is 65 percent government owned.

At some point within the next 3 months individuals and businesses will have to transfer their bank accounts from First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) to one of the two remaining banks on island or maybe the credit union. The coming months will presents opportunities for honest reflection and meaningful discussions on the state of the economy – The struggle is real.  

The role of banks within an economy is quite significant and quite frankly even more crucial to a modern economy. The banking sector serve as primary supplier of credit, it provides money for people to buy land, trucks, cars and homes and for businesses to purchase supplies, equipment, grow their operations, and meet their payrolls. Banks provide a safe place for depositors to keep their money while being able to earn interest on their deposits.  Banks make available, credit cards, debit cards, and checking accounts to accommodate business and personal transactions. Banks drive commercial activities within an economy.

The incontrovertible fact is that more than 20 years ago there were 5 commercial banks operating successfully in Dominica. Now we are down to just two banks on island. With the current state and direction of the economy the one international bank remaining on island could very well head for the exit if the economy does not make a sharp turn around.

How can any reasonable person not ask what the heck happened when for the last 15 years the government has been bragging about housing revolution, year after year. Common Sense tells me that banks should thrive in the midst of any housing revolution. Jobs would have been created, local companies would flourish, businesses would expand, and the pool of local craftsmen would dilate but we’ve seen otherwise. In fact, we have seen the direct opposite; a stark contrast from the housing boom of the 80’s and 90’s. Thats a fact - no time nor space for spinners and gaslighting

How can any reasonable person not ask -how did our financial sector decline so drastically during a period when the government has handled billions of dollars from passport sales, hundreds of million in grant funding, Millions in loans from China and also millions in free money and other gifts from Venezuela. It is trite in Dominica that no other administration has handled that much money – not even close.

Where did it all go then    

The shambling financial sector is definitively a result of (1) the mishandling of the country’s micro and macroeconomic policies and (2) the gnawing away of billions of CBI dollars earned from the sales of Dominica passports by a clan of kleptocrats. In order to resuscitate the financial sector, there need to be a change in the administration of public policies, that is removing the “tif and them tiway yo wache yo." The financial sector would be better served with an injection of billions of Dominica’s CBI dollars lurking somewhere in Dubai and other territories.

The inability of the current government administration to diversify the economy is the reason why today Dominica is in this mono-economy miasma and financial sector in ruins. The passport sales from the CBI program accounts for about 75% of government revenue but it is also well established that this CBI revenue program is mainly controlled by a Lebanese with an offshore treasury system and a money laundering asylum. Certainly, banks would have a difficult time staying in business when even in a floundering mono-economic environment diplomatic pouches, helicopter drops, and chattered planes have replaced the financial sector mechanisms on island.

Money Laundering and A Distorted Economy

A broad range of economic analyses points to the conclusion that Money laundering impairs economic growth and erodes the development of financial institutions. It is well known that other banks have had to exit Dominica because of the high risks associated with a particularly feeble mono-economy, one afflicted by rampant money laundering. In the case of FCIB the bank allegedly chose to suck up yearly losses rather than risk handling even one dollar coming from the  CBI program that is plagued by money laundering. It is also a fact that other banks have had to pack-up and live after de-risking measures forced them to terminate all CBI related accounts and transactions. Those accounts included that of the Dominica government, foreign and local CBI passport sellers and agents and other passport vending players.

There is no doubt that the rampant money laundering culture has also impacted the growth of the real sector of the economy (nonfinancial enterprises). The country’s resources are being diverted to low and non-productive activities, activities that facilitate domestic corruption, vote buying, bribery and wholescale election rigging. There are multiple instances and examples where public resources are used for low quality or nonproductive investments as means to launder the CBI funds. Evidence can be seen in the construction of unfinished hotels, unfurnished and under- furnished clinics and hospitals, shoddy constructed apartment buildings etc. As customary in money laundering jurisdiction -when these construction ventures no longer suit the money launderers, they abandon them, the people get some half-ass or unfinished project, the financial sector gets a black eye and ultimately the economy suffer. The money launderers then move on to some other planned hotel construction, some offering of airports in the sky, fish hatchery and limousine companies a la  My Dominica Trade House.Com 

Like many others I have to make that important personal decision- do I move my FCIB deposit to the only foreign bank on island or should I go with the National Bank of Dominica (NBD). As I see it (and this is by no means an advice to anyone), a rogue and impetuous government administration having 65% control of the NBD is already a disincentive. With the existing bottleneck in the movement of CBI revenue, a government with a penchant for money laundering and unable to pay invoices in the amount of $30 Million to local businesses how can I be assured that there won’t be another crippling $150 million dollar overdraft by the current administration, particularly on the eveof the next general election.

I must now weigh my concerns with NBD against the idea of going with the only other bank on island -the Republic Bank. With a crippling economy and a financial sector in ruins there is a possibility that the Republic Bank could also head for the exit. So that leaves me with the good old Cooperative Credit Union or even the proverbial EBML Bank (En Ba Mat La)/under the mattress bank.  

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