Prime Minister gives good news for Bank of Commerce depositors

The prime minister was speaking prior to the start of discussion on bills up for their first and second readings in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis. He announced that the Bank of Commerce, which has been in liquidation for over 30 years, has a resolution of their problems that will benefit depositors.

“This morning, I was advised that there is a resolution now, with respect to payment,” said Prime Minister Harris, who continued, “So, those persons with interest in the Bank of Commerce should be on alert for they are to benefit through the payment of some $15 million in the not too distant future.”

Prime Minister Harris described as unsatisfactory the period of time it took to achieve resolution on payments, and said it indicated the weakness in our business legislation and is an area that needs to be addressed. He said, “Indeed, this is one area, when we look at the World Bank Doing Business Report, which our country has had a negative mark, because there is no quickness in matters to do with winding up, liquidation, or dissolution generally of entities in the country.”

Harris said that the situation is not unique to St. Kitts and Nevis, explaining that some countries have advanced their business legislations while others are behind in terms of modern ways to deal with entry and exit of businesses and institutions.

The prime minister disclosed amounts to be received by some public sector entities. He said that the Social Security Board, which is a creditor to the Bank of Commerce should be receiving about $1.4 million, and that “Government with its substantial interest in the bank” should obtain $1.2 million, while the Nevis Philatelic Bureau would get just over a quarter of a million dollars.

Harris said the development “will bring tremendous relief to the many suffering depositors of the Bank of Commerce”. Several individuals and institutions sued the bank, and at least one case was heard at the Privy Council in London.

One resident recalled that as the Bank of Commerce collapsed, her father and many depositors had limited access to their savings. Persons would line up early at mornings to get a chance to enter and withdraw very small amounts of their funds, until this inconvenience ceased.

The bank was located on the western side of the Circus in downtown Basseterre.

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