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Will First Citizen’s Bank take over?

Will First Citizen’s Bank take over?

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National Commercial Bank (NCB) staff received a shock on Wednesday when news broke that a new manager had been appointed, the third in less than two years.

SEARCHLIGHT learnt Wednesday that Trinidadian Mario Young was introduced to staff and should have begun work yesterday. {{more}}Staff was told that Young’s stint would be for just three months.

There had been reports that First Citizen’s Bank from Trinidad and Tobago had been looking at taking over the operations of the troubled NCB. And, now that staff has been told that more Trinidadians will be coming in to occupy various positions from Monday, that possibility is being given more credence.

Young’s appointment comes even while Vincentian C. Cooper Williams, the incumbent, is “still on vacation”. Williams had assumed the vacant posting from October 6, 2003 after no-nonsense Irishman Joseph Heavener walked off the job in August 2003 and left the state in a rush citing “personal reasons” for his action.

Williams, who has extensive banking experience, retired in 2003 from Barclays Bank after 39 years with that institution. His tenure with Barclays saw him working in various countries across the Caribbean in several management positions.

Heavener, during his brief stint here, had implemented a number of stiff policies as he set about cleaning up a number of irregularities at the bank.

His tenure coincided with several changes both at staff and board levels. One notable change related to overdraft concessions for staff and board members.

Since Heavener’s stint, and continuing into that of Cooper Williams, several employees at varying levels of the bank have been sent packing as an apparent clean-up was underway.

On Wednesday, SEARCHLIGHT contacted the bank and was told the new manager would call the newspaper at a later date.

The two-year contract of Digby Ambris, the last Vincentian general manager to head the bank before Williams, ended in June 2001. Following his departure, his then deputy Roger Dalrymple acted in the top post until April of 2003 when he sought retirement.

Dalrymple’s departure was followed by the surprise appointment of Heavener on April 2, which was never publicly announced. However, the latter’s tenure was short lived as he resigned suddenly August 25.

The state of affairs at the NCB, which was established in 1977, was claimed by a member of Government to be among the reasons that led to this country being placed on the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist in the year 2000.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was removed from that blacklist in July 2003.

There are opinions being expressed about the readiness of the country’s bank for takeover by any interested banking concern. It seems, though, that the continuing involvement of Trinidadian bankers in NCB’s management may be the precursor to an eventual move in that direction.

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