PHILIPSBURG--Member of Parliament Rolando Brison, in his capacity as Parliament’s Tourism and Economic Affairs Chairman, wants an urgent meeting with the St. Maarten Banker’s Association to get an explanation about why banks are preventing persons from opening accounts and the reason/s for the closure of other accounts.
“If we cannot get clarity, then there might be a need for the committee to seriously consider amending and/or revoking bank licences. Banks are literally acting against the constitution of St. Maarten and depriving its citizens of their rights with ever-changing regulations or application procedures of these regulations, seemingly on a whim,” said Brison in a press statement Friday.
According to Brison, some banks have claimed that their methods are based on regulations of the Central Bank of Curaçao (CBCS) and St. Maarten and other laws, but several meetings with CBCS and a legal review have pointed to the contrary.
“The banks are going way beyond the scope of central bank laws and regulations to infringe on the privacy and rights of citizens and businesspeople. The banks are effectively acting like the Minister of TEATT [Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication – Ed.]: as it is ultimately their decisions that affect whether business in St. Maarten can do business or not,” said Brison.
Commenting on the need to avoid violation of residents’ rights, Brison questioned: “Do we once again have to wait for a European court, as was in the case of human rights violations at the detention centre, to tell us we are in violation?” He said EU regulations stipulate the right of a legal EU resident to open a bank account.
“Also, do we want to create the very unsafe and ill-advised practice of residents maintaining so-called ‘home banks’ because of the unclear actions of the banks in dis-allowing them to open an account, something they have a right to? We need answers,” said Brison.
The urgent meeting, he said, will also focus on recently passed laws such as the national ordinance on the reporting obligation for cross-border money movement, the national ordinance on the reporting of unusual transactions and the national ordinance on money-laundering and financing of terrorism.
“We want to update the bankers on the legislation and ascertain as to whether the banks are prepared to implement these laws in such a way that does not unnecessarily hurt the ability of business licence-holders to do banking in St. Maarten,” Brison said.