News
November 27, 2009
NCB employee suspended for alleged confidentiality breach

A worker at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) has been suspended for allegedly breaching the institution’s confidentiality rules.{{more}}

That employee was suspended on Sunday evening, said Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

“We have someone at the bank whom I’ve been advised has been suspended as of yesterday (Sunday). They [allegedly] disclosed confidential information,” Gonsalves said at a press conference on Monday evening.

According to the Prime Minister, in recent weeks someone has been supplying Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace with sensitive information relating to transactions at the NCB.

On November 18, Eustace charged that US $1 million had been deposited in an account at the NCB, and called on Gonsalves to answer several questions relating to the deposit.

At the time Eustace said he was seeking information on who dropped the money and for what purpose, where the money is now and whether the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) investigated the matter.

The Opposition Leader charged further that the transaction was subsequently denied and the person involved told to return for the money.

Then on Monday Eustace called another press conference to question a number of foreign currency transactions allegedly made at NCB in early November by Senator Julian Francis and other persons related to the Prime Minister, including his wife Eloise Gonsalves and two of their children.

Documents purported to relate to the transactions were posted on various websites.

Gonsalves warned that it was a criminal offence for any employee of the state-owned bank to reveal information of that kind, and conviction could result in a maximum prison sentence of two years.

Additionally, he explained, any non-employee who cooperates with such an individual working in the bank can be charged with conspiracy to divulge the information.

“A conspiracy carries the same term of imprisonment under the criminal code as indeed the person who commits the actual offence,” said Gonsalves.

When contacted, CEO of the NCB, Andre Iton, told SEARCHLIGHT he could not comment on the matter at this time.

“I don’t discuss banking matters in the public domain,” said Iton.

“If a breach occurs then there is a regulatory process involving the law so the bank simply can’t discuss it,” Iton added.

Earlier Gonsalves had stated that as a policy maker he didn’t get involved in making reports to the police, adding he would not be telling the bank what to do internally about its business.

“Rather than discouraging this conduct operatives inside of the NDP had been using modern technology to spread information all over the world, traducing innocent people [and] making it appear that to change money at a bank is a criminal offence,” said Gonsalves.

Gonsalves said the currency changes allegedly made by Francis involved relatively small sums.

“Do you think that people who contribute money to a political party in St.Vincent and the Grenadines give you cheque? They don’t give you because they don’t want people to know that they are making a contribution because they will see it at the banks,” said Gonsalves.

“They don’t want that, so invariably they will give you cash contributions.”