Eastern Caribbean Central Bank takes over ABI

ST. JOHN‘S, Antigua & Barbuda: The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has taken over a second bank in Antigua and Barbuda to prevent it from collapse, after it failed to meet its statutory and other obligations.

The ECCB and the government announced that as of last Friday, July 22, the indigenous Antigua and Barbuda Investment Bank (ABI) is under its control. This comes just over two years after the ECCB took over the Bank of Antigua (now Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank) following a run on the bank when owner Allen Stanford was charged with a multi-billion-dollar fraud.

Finance Minister Harold Lovell said ABI Bank’s ability to meet its statutory obligations and to carry out normal banking functions has been challenged because of insufficient liquid assets.

“The affairs of ABI Bank will now be carried out by ECCB staff, with the support of a dedicated group of banking specialists and the current staff of ABI Bank,” said Lovell. “Together, they will resolve the issues that led to this action, and ensure the continued operations of the bank.”

Lovell sought to assure that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda will continue to work with the ECCB to ensure that all steps are taken to protect the interests of depositors and creditors of the bank.

“We ask for the support and patience of depositors and creditors of ABI Bank and the understanding of the public in general during this time,” he said. “We are confident that our collective actions will restore the bank to normality, and maintain stability within the banking system.”

ECCB Governor Sir Dwight Venner said that normal banking operations will continue at the three branches of the bank and no disruption of activities is contemplated.

Both officials explained that in agreeing to the ECCB takeover of ABI Bank, the current economic conditions in Antigua and Barbuda, the lingering effects of the global recession, the CLICO/BAICO issue, and the best interests of depositors were taken into consideration.

“We also took into consideration the successful Bank of Antigua rescue, and the need to maintain financial stability in Antigua and Barbuda and, by extension, within the Currency Union,” said Lovell.

Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer pledged his government’s full support to the Central Bank in its efforts to resolve the challenges facing ABI Bank.

“Let me assure you that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is fully committed to preserving the safety and soundness of the banking system in Antigua and Barbuda and we are confident that the collective actions taken by the government and the Central Bank will serve to maintain your confidence in the bank and the financial sector as a whole. The government’s commitment to financial sector stability is resolute and firm,” said Spencer.

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