The main offices of the Turks and Caicos Islands Bank in Providenciales, which the National Bank of Dominica (NBD) was a shareholder of, was closed down on April 9.

The bank is partly owned by other Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Banks, including ABI Bank Limited and its subsidiary Antigua Overseas Bank Limited, Bank of Nevis Limited, Caribbean Commercial Bank (Anguilla) Limited, Grenada Cooperative Bank Limited, National Bank of Anguilla Limited and the St Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank Limited.

These Eastern Caribbean banks own 30 percent of the TCI Bank’s share capital.

“The Financial Services Commission (FSC) was forced to take this action after the bank suffered a number of significant withdrawals of funds which left the bank unable to operate normally and meet its obligations on a timely basis. The FSC asked the court to intervene only once it became clear that the Board of TCI Bank was unable to obtain the additional financial support necessary for the bank to continue to trade. In these sad circumstances, the only solution was to seek a liquidation in order to safeguard the remaining assets and to ensure their fair distribution to creditors,” a press release from the Turks and Caicos Islands Financial Services Commission (FSC) stated.

Consequently, the Supreme Court of Turks and Caicos Islands appointed provisional liquidators Anthony Kikivarakis and Mark Munnings, of Deloitte & Touche on the matter.

The FSC’s press release further stated that the provisional liquidators have been charged by the court to quickly protect the assets of TCI Bank and explore all avenues available to rescue it. The FSC has asked the liquidators to move as quickly as possible in communicating guidance to account holders, staff and other creditors in an effort to minimize the inevitable uncertainty that they now face.

The largest shareholder group, TCI belongers and companies majority-owned by TCI belongers, holds 40 percent of the bank’s shares and a mixed group of TCI belongers and non-TCI permanent residents owns 20 percent.

Ten percent of the bank’s shares are also held by the TCI National Insurance Board, according to the institution’s website.

According to Chairman of the FSC Sandy Lightbourne, it was a sad step to take in closing down the Turks and Caicos Islands’ only indigenous bank.

The bank was also very vulnerable to the current global economic downturn as a new and stand-alone operation, Lightbourne noted.

“The FSC had been working closely with the bank’s current Board and management to find a solution to the difficulties, and some progress was being made. But regrettably it seems that in recent weeks the bank suffered a growing loss of confidence on the part of some of its important depositors. While efforts were made to find new investors, regrettably none was forthcoming in the time available,” she added.

“The FSC took the difficult decision to petition the court to close the bank so that its remaining assets could be preserved. Obviously, we must await the conclusions of the provisional liquidators’ work; but I am afraid that depositors must expect that they might not be able to recover all of their savings.”

At the end of March, the TCI Bank branch office in North Caicos and a newer branch office at Grace Bay, Provo, were officially closed. These closings came after a 30-day notice was posted.

A branch of the bank in Grand Turk was also closed.

– Staff reporter