In December 2005, TCI Bank opened its doors in the Turks and Caicos eventually serving three islands, Providenciales, North Caicos and Grand Turk. In April 2010, the Financial Services Commission made an application to the court to liquidate the bank and appointed two individuals who did not reside in TCI as the provisional liquidators and eventually one of them was removed.
Was the Liquidation of TCI Bank a premature decision?
The first report of the liquidator stated that there were several individuals and entities that submitted proposals to buy and rescue the bank but they did not materialize. In light of the liquidation, we need to ask ourselves some questions. Did they relevant authorities try hard enough to seek a buyer? Was it premature to liquidate the bank robbing 4,000 customers of their opportunity to access their funds? Couldn’t they have appointed an administrator to oversee the operations until the sale from the serious buyers materialized?
Why did none of the proposals materialize? Did they not have any confidence in the potential buyers to turn around the bank? Is it because the relevant statutory body does not report to an elected Government and therefore it is not held accountable? Why didn’t the TCIG try to bail out the bank until buyers were found? Is it because the interim administration was running the country and they believe we were all corrupt and therefore had no compassion for the residents of TCI? Or is it because NIB had already invested millions as a shareholder and the interim Government didn’t want to take additional risks?
Was the liquidation an opportunity to give an someone or a company additional revenue for their business? If that is the case, then why a local resident could not be the liquidator? (When I say local it can be an indigenous or an expat as long as they reside legally in TCI).
Unfortunately, we may never know the answers and of course, TCI Bank is the past and so you may wondered why bring up the past. The writer brought these questions up because he does not want history to be repeated with any of our existing or future institutions. We have been quiet for too long and we need to start speaking out against some of these decisions that are being made and hence the purpose of this article.
Distribution of funds to date
It should be noted that in a corporate liquidation if there are any assets to be distributed, the secured creditors and secured bondholders are paid first.
Based on the liquidator’s report taken from their website, $8,723,404.27 was paid to a secured creditor St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank. (Note the claim was $9,492,803). Antigua Overseas Bank is another secured creditor which is expected to receive payment as well. However, the amount of that claim is unknown at that time of this article.
There were two dividend payouts to customers totaling 40 per cent which amounted to $27,841,079, This excludes the payment to St Kitts Bank as mentioned above.
Change the liquidator
I know that it is very challenging collecting debts from individuals even when one gets a court ruling and I know priority must be giving to secured creditors. However, it almost nine years and there are over $8, 142, 343 in cash. The former customers deserve a third payout. Therefore, I challenge the FSC to change the liquidator and get someone that resides in Turks and Caicos and hopefully this new person can expedite the process. If nothing is done, the cost of this operation will continue to escalate.
From April 2010 to June 2018, $13, 275, 456 were disbursed in expenses covering liquidators’ fees, legal fees, salaries, rent and utilities for office and liquidator, principal repayment, security, communication expenses, storage, vehicle costs, equipment rental, maintenance, cleaning services and bank charges. Of this, 5,994,716 was disbursed as liquidators’ fees and other costs. Something is wrong with this picture.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The FSC is a regulatory body and needs to step up its game on the supervision of TCI Bank liquidator.
TCI Bank in liquidation needs to be more transparent. Yes, there is a website (www.tcibankltd.com) that provides liquidators’ report on a biannual basis. However, I am not sure how many people are aware of this website and how many people even read the report. We need to hear more from the FSC and TCI Bank in liquidation.
Because of all this fiasco, it is imperative that the Government and the FSC implement a depositors’ insurance scheme. I spoke to someone about this recently and he told me that the banks do not have appetite for a depositors’ insurance scheme. It should not be up to the bank. It should be up to the Government to ensure the residents are protected in the event of another failure. People need hope and people need answers. It is time for a serious review of the operations of TCI Bank in liquidation.