16 November, 2008


National Bank of Anguilla. The only bank I bank with is NBA. NBA is my bank. So, whatever I write that might appear critical is to be taken as but a child reproaching a parent.

I have been following a story recently. The story is officially about banking secrecy. More importantly, it is about the competence and reliability of West Indian banks. The part of the story that interests me is about NBA. The author claims that he had emailed various West Indian banks with the following question:

“Dear bank rep,

I have some questions about banking secrecy at your bank. I hope you’ll be glad to answer them. Here they are:

Under what conditions will the bank share information on its clients?

Does there have to be a government investigation underway? Does that matter?

If so, who can conduct this investigation?

Does it take a court order? Is an official request good enough?

Thanks and I hope you’ll answer my questions as best you can.”

He says that only two of the several banks in the West Indies that he wrote, particularly Griffon Bank of Dominica and Caye Bank of Belize, replied. National Bank of Anguilla, among others, did not respond. He writes:

“The rest of the Banks I contacted have not answered because, as everyone knows, it’s very hard to answer an e-mail if you’re only given one week. Or maybe they’re just lazy or don’t know how to type and click buttons, or they’re just not very service oriented or non-client friendly …or the benefit of the doubt: they’re so used to keeping their mouths shut that they did not answer my e-mails.”

I do not mind that he is talking about Grenadian or Antiguan banks. I do mind that he is talking about my bank.

The answers to his question were not difficult. One only had to be honest. One correct reply would have been:

"Who would be so na├»ve as to believe today that there exists any such thing as banking secrecy? It was approximately ten years ago that Switzerland surrendered banking secrecy to the US State Department. That was the end of banking secrecy internationally. Only banks set up with the specific intention of stealing our money still promise secrecy. The higher the level of secrecy offered by an offshore bank, the more confident the offshore “bank” will be that you will not complain when they disappear with your money."

Why would it have been so difficult to explain such a basic fact to a correspondent? Better by far to be accused of excessive compliance with intrusive regulation than of incompetence or laziness, I would have thought.


  1. We should not mistake lethargy for policy.

  2. I believe this lack of responsibility and forthright accountability by those in authority drifts down from our elected leaders. The frightening danger is that our people generally are beginning to take it for granted.

  3. "Much of the world seems to suffer the frustrations of the public sector. The complexity of the systems, the mounds of paperwork, the discipline of returns, the following of precedent, the fear of failure, the inefficiency of having to jump on political merry-go-rounds, the endless checks and balances, the multi-layers of decision making, the time wasting of endless committees, the plethora of experts and advisers, the reports that are ignored, the waste of tax-payers money, the spin, the endless scrutiny, the broken promises and the time that is spent covering one’s behind against sudden attack."
    --Andrew Gurr, Governor of St. Helena

    This is government. This is banking. There is no time left for the average constituent, or the average customer. It is as true in North America and Europe as it is here. So when a tourist comes to Anguilla and a hotel employee takes the time for a friendly greeting or makes the effort to smile, people are astounded at how friendly and polite we all are.

  4. I e-mailed NBA back in April of 2007 concerning opening an account. The purpose of this account was only to have a local bank to wire money to for vacations and such, we're not talking tons of money. Never received a response from NBA. Scotia replied immediately......
    - Scotty

  5. NBA is "committed to providing our loyal customers with services aligned with today's technologically advanced world."

    Unfortunately, word of this new service level has often failed to reach those in Anguilla who actually deal with their employers' loyal customers. Going from my bank to the hardware store, from the supermarket to the Police, I'm made to feel like my visit is a bother to those who are forced to spend their entire days in such surroundings when they deserve to be at the beach.

  6. Hi, I'm Mr. Privacy Oriented. I run the blog you linked to and e-mailed the banks and posted the results. Thanks for reading, by the way! To this day, NBA has not e-mailed me with answers.

    And I have some comments about your banking secrecy comments: there are places that still have banking secrecy very much in tact. These places are hard to find, and have varying degrees of it. What may be good for a Russian may not be good for an American and vice-versa. Anguilla seems like a good place (laws anyway) for banking, but only under certain circumstances. It depends on what you're trying to accomplish and where you're from.

    Some that come to mind for Americans looking to evade taxes are: Samoa, Vanuatu, Panama, Gibraltar, Guatemala, Malta, Andorra and Monaco. If someone wants to launder money, they needn't look much further than most third world countries, especially African and Central Asian ones.

    Northern Cyprus is good too - for almost anything. ;)

    Jersey, the Isle of Mann, BVI, the Bahamas, Switzerland and other wildly popular offshore centers are pretty much right out!


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