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Gonsalves: NCB was a ‘piggy bank’

Gonsalves: NCB was a ‘piggy bank’

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The National Commercial Bank’s (NCB) performance under the Unity Labour Party (ULP) has surpassed that of the New Democratic Party (NDP) by far, says Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.{{more}}

Gonsalves made this assertion at the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) 16th Convention on Sunday, February 21, 2010.

The prime minister stated that during the NDP’s tenure in office, the National Commercial Bank (NCB) was a “piggy bank”.

“They run it into the ground,” Gonsalves sighed.

Outlining the disparity between the two administrations where the performance of the NCB is concerned, Gonsalves disclosed that in 2000, the total assets of the NCB stood at $368 million, but by the end of 2009 under his administration, it had amounted to $813 million.

In 2000, the bank’s loans totalled $239 million, but by the end of 2009 it had reached a mark of $569 million.

Delving further into the contrast, Gonsalves said deposits to the bank under the NDP regime in 2000 amounted to $320 million, but in 2009 under his administration it totalled $674 million.

Shareholders equity in 2000 was $27 million, but this had got to $84 million in 2009, said Gonsalves.

Regarding non performing loans, Gonsalves said the records show in 2001, the figure stood at 22 per cent, but in 2008 under his government it had been reduced to 2.1 per cent.

He used the opportunity to prove that more jobs were created at the bank by his administration. To this end, he pointed out that the bank had 139 employees in 2000, with salaries payment to them totalling $4.6 million. He, however, stated this was increased to 196 in 2009 with $12.5 million spent on salaries.

He lashed out at the NDP, claiming that during their tenure in office, a man carrying the name Bienvenido Bencosome-Adames walked out from the NCB with $1 million and no one knew. This was due to the bank’s failure to honour the mandatory six week clearing period for foreign cheques.

As a result of the forged certified cheque scandal, Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the James Mitchell led administration, Carlyle Dougan, Q.C. had to resign.

Reports claim that on May 17, 1996, Beconsome-Adames had opened an account with a cheque for US$431,950.68. On May 24, 1996, Nations Bank in Florida, USA, which dealt with NCB’s foreign transactions confirmed that the cheque issued by Chemical Bank in New York was cleared on May 21, 1996. NCB received information on the clearance of the cheque by tested telex on May 24 and reconfirmation was made on May 28.

It is claimed that after receiving such confirmation, NCB went ahead and made payments from the account.

Bencosome-Adames, given clearance by the NCB, wrote cheques to two US companies through the European American Bank, which had a similar name to an offshore company registered in St.Vincent which listed him as a director (The European American Trust Co Ltd.). He also sent US$198,000 to Moonlit Consultants Incorporated and US$99,550 to Granite Management Incorporated. After completing these transactions, he left the country.

On June 10, the NCB received an urgent letter from Nations Bank informing them that the endorsement was fraudulent.

Dougan resigned but he denied the major issues of the allegation – that he used his influence to have the bank credit the account and that any government official got a “cut-back” from the transaction.

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