Kaieteur News – In a brief conversation with President Ali a few months ago, he said my comments on the commercial banks were interesting. He said long before he became a minister, much less president, he had heard stories of how the small income savers were treated by the banks.
About a week after, the Bank of Guyana issued some instructions which included three important dimensions: 1 – A driver’s licence is proof of identification; 2 – If such a document carries place of residence, the banks should accept it as proof of address; 3 – The commercial banks ought to recognize the category of low risk customers and not apply the same rigours as suspected launderers.
I received an email from Ms. Stacey Brown and Pamela Patiram of the Bank of Nova Scotia requesting me, my wife and daughter to come in to update our joint account at the Robb Street branch. The email listed the usual onerous requirements in keeping with the anti-money laundering act.
The email displayed the two numbers to contact Brown and Patiram if there are queries. After spending half an hour trying to make contact, I asked a senior banking official to assist me. That person did help. One Ms. Khan indicated that at 10 am I would receive a call to discuss my interest. This was at 8.30 am. So I have to wait an hour and a half to speak to an official. I asked another senior banking official to intervene.
Ms. Patiram telephoned me to hear my complaints. I had four: 1 – I was not going to wait for four hours as happened in August 2018; 2 – We updated our account in August 2018, so why so soon after? 3 – In keeping with the declaration of the Central Bank, why isn’t there a policy for low risk accounts? 4 – Does the bank accept driver’s licence as stipulated by the Central Bank as proof of address?
Here is the response from the Bank of Nova Scotia. It does not accept driver’s licence as proof of address. Even if I am a low risk account holder, the policy of the bank is to have you come in every two years for the paper work.
I was enraged. I contacted Dr. Gobin Ganga, the governor of the central bank. I have known Dr. Ganga for a long time and regard him as an excellent professional. He admitted that it would be senseless if the stipulations of the Bank of Guyana were ignored. Of course, he is right. Why then does the central institution supervise the conduct of financial houses? I insisted to Dr. Ganga that my family and I should not be treated as if we are money launderers. He indicated he would make enquiries.
I told him frankly, how I feel about Raymond Smith, the CEO of the Scotia Bank. Almost all CEOs of commercial banks bask in the false glory of them being special elites and do not communicate with non-banking people. I have an ordinary saving account which has seen only small deposits the past 10 years and only on a few occasions. In 2018, the amount went down because I had to pay for my daughter’s education for her higher degree in London.
From September 2018, here is a record of deposits into our account; November 6, 2018 – $13,298; February 18, 2019 – $19,002; June 19, 2019 – $19,032; November 17, 2019 – $14,248;
February 24, 2020 – $26, 590; July 19, 2020 – $14,248 and December 6, 2020 – $14,248.
In two years, one month, deposits totalled $120, 666. The sum of $120,000 cannot buy a smart television or the latest Samsung smart phone. Now here is the surprise for you. All those deposits were dividend cheques from Bank DIH, every one of them. Any jackass, any donkey can see that such an account holder is a non-risk customer. Why then I have to drag my wife at our age every two years into Scotia Bank?
I spoke to three of Guyana’s most prominent bankers who warned me not to trust Dr. Ganga. I told them I do. They insist I must not trust him. Here is what one of the most known bankers in Guyana said to me; “Freddie, you know how long that guy was governor and the mistreatment by the commercial banks gets worse and worse every year; figure it out for yourself, but don’t tell me about Gobin Ganga.” The next step is the Finance Minister, then President Ali. This sadistic mistreatment by the commercial banks and New Building Society of low income Guyanese has to be confronted and defeated. Please join me!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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