The Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) has appointed an “Official Administrator” to take control of the operations of the Meinl Bank Antigua Limited and dismissed three of its directors.
 Meinl Bank’s name has, for months, been embroiled in a multimillion- dollar international bribery scandal due to its alleged involvement.
According to the FSRC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brenda Shepherd, the recently enacted International Banking Act 2016 is so “broad” that “in the event of any suspicion or allegation” the commission “would be expected to act” as it did.
A February 10 press release from the FSRC stated that, “Pursuant to Section 104(c) of the [Act]” Cleveland Seaforth had been appointed the “Official Administrator of the Bank” while “pursuant to Section 62 (g) and Section 62 (h) of the [Act]…the Commission removed three of the directors from the board of the Bank”.
Seaforth, who is a managing partner in KPMG Eastern Caribbean, has been commissioned to “investigate the operations of the bank and submit a report to the Commission on the results of his investigation,” after which the FSRC stated it would “take the appropriate actions to protect the interest of depositors and creditors” and “the integrity of the international financial sector”.
Asked for the names of the three directors who were removed, Shepherd said the FSRC “didn’t want to disclose more than we determined we would, when we initiated the process”.
She added, “Based on how quickly he can get through, that’s when they’ll produce the report. What we are doing – we’re doing it because we are required by law to do it now.”
The CEO said, there was no specific allegation that has triggered the action, but the International Banking Act 2016 requires that the action be taken.
 In July 2016, the government of Antigua & Barbuda declared that the Office of National Drug & Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) had frozen assets in accounts at Meinl Bank pending requests for co-operation with an investigation into the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht.
A former principal of the bank and Antigua & Barbuda’s former Honorary Consul to Brazil Luiz Augusto Franca is now cooperating with Brazilian investigations into the bank’s activity.
 Odebrecht is alleged to have used the Meinl Bank to move funds as part of an international bribery scheme, that is estimated to have paid over US $788 million to individuals across the globe.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)



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