Letters & Opinion

Stand up to Banking Oppression


CITIZENS of Saint Lucia it is time that we stand up and fight against oppression.The Commercial Banks in Saint Lucia are carrying out a system of oppression against their customers.

Several clients sought explanations from me as to why the Banks are withdrawing money monthly from their account.

This situation had escaped my observation until one young girl and her mother came to me to complain that the girl who just left school went to her Bank to withdraw $50.00 from her account to find that the Bank had withdrawn $5.00 from the account and gave $3.00 interest. The child’s mother was so angry that she went to the Bank asking that the girl close her account and pay the balance left on the account which was just short of a $100.00.

The bank teller told the mother that the girl has to pay $10.00 to close the account.The woman started making noise and alerting other customers. The teller, not knowing what to do went to her supervisor to report the scandal. She returned later and paid the girl the balance of her account without the $10.00 being deducted.

Upon speaking to other clients I discovered that the banks are exploiting their customers accordingly.
(1) A poor pensioner who is bedridden or incapacitated has his/her account in the Bank. So every month he sends someone to make a withdrawal for him. The Bank charges $12.00 from his account as third party transaction. This charge was $10.00 now it is $12.00.

(2) If a Bank’s customer does not put money on his account or withdraws for one year, the bank calls it non activation of the account and charges $5.00 to keep the account.

(3) Lawyers have client’s accounts at the bank, they hold clients money. The bank now charges $5.00 to $10.00 monthly from that account.The result is when the client claims his money from the lawyer, the lawyer cannot pay the client the full amount. The lawyer is branded a thief by his client.

This withdrawal from customers account for non activation of the account, after years that account should be sent to the Central bank. The wider implication is that by the time the Bank withdraws $5.00 or $2.00 monthly for 14 years there is nothing left to go to the Central Bank. This scenario is for the Minister of Finance to note.

On the Official Gazette of Saint Lucia dated 27th April 2015, the 1st National Bank published and gave notice that there are 1,353 of such dormant accounts. How much of this will end its way to the Central Bank, after the Bank withdraws $2.00 monthly for 14 years?

Now citizens you put money in the banks so that you can get an interest. The banks have no money, it is the citizens’ money that the banks invest and give loans at high rates of interest. Yet the banks charge you for using your own money and making a large amount from your money which the banks loan to customers.

The banks are imposing a tax on its customers which they have no legal authority to do. There is no legal contract between the banks and their customers for this withdrawing from the customers’ account.

This Contract de adhesion is a French system of contract Law and has no application to English system of law or our Saint Lucia Laws.

Citizens of Saint Lucia especially the lawyers, the trade unions you should stand up and fight the banks, because this is unconscionable and inequitable.

To exploit you citizens more, the 1st National Bank St. Lucia Limited sent a letter to their customers saying that the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank has advised that a minimum interest rate payable on savings account to be reduced from 3% to 2%.

Credit Unions of Saint Lucia you should re-organise your savings and loans portfolio to take over the masses’ accounts from the banks. Leave the commercial banks for the business sector.

As a co-operative entity you should reduce your interest on your loans from 1% monthly which is 12% yearly. Your rates on loans are definitely too high.

Citizens, we should file a test case or class action against the banks to stop their behaviour and for the return of the money illegally withdrawn from their customers’ accounts.

Lawyers, trade unions, Pensioner’s Association fight for the people you represent.

Good luck and join with me to stop this exploitation.

Your response please.


1 Comment

  1. The behavior of the banks is indeed unconscionable but they do what they do with the consent of Government. The EC Monetary Council which decided to reduce interest rates on savings from 3 to 2% is composed of Governments. That decision seriously affects not just ordinary savers but also institutions like the National Insurance.

    Interestingly the Monetary Council has not addressed the underlying issue that there are too many banks operating in the OECS.

    While savers are being paid less interest borrowers, including Governments must pay more. The spread between interest on savings and interest on loans is as much as 10-12% well excess of what the banks need to cover their operating costs. And considering that the banks don’t generate their own money but use our own to generate their profits, it can be said these banks are no different to operators of Ponzi schemes who are now in jail.

    The only way to fight back is for savers to switch to cooperatives but they must put their houses in order.

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