Me, President, Dr. Gobin Ganga and Scotia Bank
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 a president, that he had heard stories about how the banks were treating the small income savers.
About a week later, the Bank of Guyana issued some instructions that included three important dimensions: 1 – A driver’s license is proof of identity; 2 – If such a document carries a place of residence, the banks should receive it as proof of address; 3 – The commercial banks should recognize the category of low-risk customers and not apply the same rigor as launcher suspects.
I received an email from Ms Stacey Brown and Pamela Patiram of the Bank of Nova Scotia asking 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 under the anti-money laundering act.
The email displayed both numbers to contact Brown and Patiram if there are queries. After spending half an hour trying to get in touch, I asked a senior banking officer to assist me. That person did help. One Ms Khan stated that I would receive a call to discuss my interest at 10 am. This was at 8.30 am. So I have to wait an hour and a half to talk to an officer. I asked another senior banking officer to intervene.
Ms Patiram phoned me to hear my complaints. I got four: 1 – I wasn’t going to wait four hours as it happened in August 2018; 2 – We updated our account in August 2018, so why so soon after? 3 – In line with the Central Bank statement, why is there no policy for low risk accounts? 4 – Does the bank receive a driver’s license as specified by the Central Bank as proof of address?
Here is the response from the Bank of Nova Scotia. He does not receive a driving license as proof of address. Even if I’m a low-risk account holder, the bank’s policy is that you come in every two years for the paperwork.
I was irritated. I contacted Dr. Gobin Ganga, governor of the central bank. I have known Dr. Ganga has a long time and considered him an excellent professional. He admitted that it would be prudent if the conditions of the Bank of Guyana were ignored. Of course, it’s fine. Why then does the central organization oversee the conduct of financial housing? I insisted to Dr. I pray that my family and I should not be treated as money launderers. He indicated that he would make inquiries.
I told him bluntly, how I feel about Raymond Smith, CEO of Bank of Scotia. Almost all CEOs of commercial banks bask in the false glory that they are special elites and do not communicate with non-banking people. I have a common savings account that has only seen small deposits in the last 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 advanced degree in London.
As of September 2018, here is a record of deposits to 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, the total deposits were $ 120, 666. The amount of $ 120,000 can not buy a smart TV or the latest Samsung smartphone. Now here’s the surprise for you. All of those deposits were dividend checks from Bank DIH, all of them. Any jackass, any donkey can see that such account holder is a risk-free customer. Why then do I have to drag my two-year-old wife 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 was doing that. They insist that I should not trust him. This is what one of the best known bankers in Guyana told me; “Freddie, you know how long that guy was governor and the abuse from the commercial banks is getting worse and worse every year; figure that out for yourself, but don’t tell me about Gobin Ganga. “The next step is the then Finance Minister, President Ali. This sadistic abuse by the commercial banks and the low-income Guyanese New Building Society must be confronted and conquered. Join me!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.)