BFSU will ‘wait and see’ with regards to CIBC purchaser

BFSU will ‘wait and see’ with regards to CIBC purchaser
President of the Bahamas Financial Services Union, Theresa Mortimer.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Bahamas Financial Services Union (BFSU) president Theresa Mortimer said yesterday the union had taken a ‘wait and see’ approach regarding CIBC’s purchaser.

Mortimer told Eyewitness News: “We don’t know who or what we are dealing with.

“I met with the head of the Gilinski Group Mr Jamie Gilinski back in January. I think he came to see what the jewel in his crown looks like. We said our hellos and good-afternoons.

“We really didn’t have a meeting per se. He had a meet and greet with the staff but I represent the staff. We had a courtesy call before he went to talk to the staff.”

Mortimer noted that the union unaware of what the groups plans were for CIBC in The Bahamas going forward.

“When I inquired on the way forward, I was told that they are awaiting regulatory approval from the government. We will just wait and see,” she said.

“I have questions where not only the bank is concerned but also as it relates to the country especially when you think about correspondent banking relationships. What is going to happen to their correspondent banking relationships and who are we going to be dealing with. It should be a country concern.

“Where are we going? We will wait and see how it goes. It’s a watch and see situation for us. We don’t now who we’re dealing with or what we are dealing with.”

CIBC announced last November that it had reached an agreement on the purchase of a portion of CIBC’s shares in its Caribbean entity, FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited (“FirstCaribbean”) by GNB Financial Group Limited.

GNB will purchase 66.73 percent of the shares of FirstCaribbean, subject to the approval of local regulators, while CIBC will retain a 24.9 percent interest in the Caribbean bank.

GNB is wholly owned by Starmites Corporation, the financial holding company of the Gilinski Group. The Gilinski Group has banking operations in Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, and Cayman Islands with approximately US $15 billion in combined assets.

FirstCaribbean is one of the largest regionally listed financial services institutions in the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean, with US$11.5 billion in assets and market capitalization of US$2.1 billion, as at 31st July 2019.

Mortimer also commented on the continue contraction in the Bahamian financial services sector, highlighted this week with the lay-off of 30 employees from Julius Baer.

“The financial sector continues to contract,” she said.

“Years ago it was the sector everyone would try to get into. We saw it as a comfortable sector. Things are not that way anymore. This whole issue of knowing your customer (KYC) has changed the way we do business big time.

“We also have places like the Cayman Islands offering the same products we are,” Mortimer added.