Dominican Today -
Recent developments in Europe and North America, involving Barclays Bank and others in the manipulation of Libor rates, are truly shocking.
They bring into question not just the role of the banks concerned, but suggest that a once measured and conservative profession that people trusted, has in major financial centres become so self-seeking and lacking in morality that bankers at the highest levels are prepared to condone or order actions amounting to fraud on a global scale.
As this is being written the story is still unfolding.
In outline it is about falsifying the benchmark interest rate against which almost all global financial transactions take place. Libor –short for the daily London interbank offered rate - is the rate that establishes the costs to banks to borrow from each other and the figure against which almost all other rates are set for financial products and instruments ranging from swaps to complex derivatives, mortgages, personal savings and loans.
Around 20 major banks, in the US, Europe and Japan have received requests from their regulators to provide information on the setting of the Libor rate over a number of years, including at critical moments during the 2007-9 global banking crisis. The allegation is that these banks artificially lowered their Libor submissions to enhance their financial health.
Of these so far only Barclays has admitted that its traders and bankers did so and a fine of US$300m has been levied on it by UK and the US regulators.
But in an indication of quite how serious the consequent breakdown of trust is, the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, has said that the Libor rate was one of the key indicators he used during the 2008 global banking crisis to assess the strength of banks, but that he now realised this was seriously flawed. “If you can’t trust banks on something as basic as this, what confidence can you have in them,” he told the London Financial Times.
Whether what is being revealed will result in legal actions against banks and individual bankers remains to be seen. However, the US Department of Justice is pursuing criminal and civil investigations and there is talk of class actions against the banks involved.
These are of course not just matters of concern to those who live in Europe or North America. In a global economy, banks operate across borders, Governments and institutions rely on them, and their role is as essential to the Caribbean’s financial systems as it is to the countries in which they are located.
For many who have lived or worked in the Anglophone Caribbean, the coupling of Barclays name with this scandal may seem unreal. Most remember Barclays Bank in the Caribbean, its network of offices and branches and the bank’s head office in London, as the repository of traditional values.
The bank of course gradually exited from the Caribbean. In 2001 after a 150 year presence, Barclays and CIBC announced that they were in discussions. This led to the combination of their retail, corporate and offshore operations in the region to create FirstCaribbean International Bank. Then in 2006 CIBC acquired Barclays’ stake, becoming the majority shareholder in FirstCaribbean
Although Barclays Caribbean ethos may now seem a little quaint, in many ways it has, together with the strong corporate culture of the Canadian banks in the region, resulted in the welcome if sometimes frustrating conservatism of Caribbean banking and its ability to remain more or less untouched by the crisis in the global banking system.
Notwithstanding, the regional financial system has been severely tested. Caricom Finance Ministers are still trying to work out how to respond on a regional basis to the multi-billion dollar failure in January 2009 of the Trinidad-based financial conglomerate, CLICO and its subsidiaries; and just three weeks ago a US judge sentenced Allen Stanford to 110 years in jail for his part in a US$7bn international fraud run out of Stanford International Bank Ltd in Antigua.
What has protected mainstream Caribbean banking is its limited integration with international financial markets. As a consequence it largely avoided exposure to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and others US financial institutions, did not buy mortgage backed securities, is not involved in high risk financial instruments like derivatives, has relatively low levels of overseas borrowings, has not confused wholesale and retail banking operations, and continues to have a clear commercial and social purpose.
Despite this there should be no room for complacency.
There remain worrying gaps in the ways in which financial institutions in the region are supervised and regulated. Economic and commercial linkages, common vulnerabilities, smallness and the danger of instability in the global financial system all suggest that there is pressing a need for a single set of rules supervised by a regional regulatory institution.
In an important speech in March that deserves much wider attention, Ewart Williams, the Governor of Trinidad’s Central Bank suggested a series of remedies. He argued for strengthened financial sector legislation that covers the banking system, insurance and the credit unions and a need to substantially upgrade and consolidate financial sector supervision. He also recommended all countries having national insurance schemes to cover deposits in banks to protect the less well off and for there to be national and regional crisis management plans. He made the point that financial sector legislation in the region is grossly deficient when compared to what obtains in advanced or emerging market countries and that there was a danger of regulatory arbitrage if legislation was not harmonised across the region.
Caricom Heads of government need to take more seriously the importance of what Governor Williams and other Central Bankers are saying, not least because of continuing global economic uncertainty. Unfortunately the absence of effective regional governance through Caricom may set aside or delay implementing many of these important, stabilising and common sense approaches.
What is now happening in North America and Europe suggests that avarice, the corrosive sense that big banks are above the law and will always be bailed out, and the continuing crisis in the Eurozone, could return to threaten the global economy . If unchecked there is a danger of social instability not least because these forces cast governments and social policies aside and leave ordinary people feeling helpless and marginalised. If there is another crisis, this time the Caribbean, now economically less robust, may not be immune.
David Jessop is the Director of the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at david. jessop@caribbean-council. org
Previous columns can be found at www. caribbean-council. org
Read original at Dominican Today.
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Santo Domingo- Money laundering convict Sobeida Félix on
Tuesday said the National District Office of the Prosecutor has reneged on the
plea bargaining agreement on which she surrendered her assets in
exchange for the authorities’ promise of not opposing her release on parole.
Félix, in statements to the District National 8th
Criminal Chamber, also affirmed that Justice minister Francisco Dominguez told
her that he feared for her life if released from the prison at Najayo, and
that she turned over all the information the prosecution wanted on those
involved in the drug trafficking and money laundering case whose main suspect
is her paramour, Puerto Rican kingpin José Figueroa Agosto. “If the
authorities shelved this information it’s not my problem. ”
Dominican Republic’s most famous inmate affirmed that as
part of the agreement, she had to surrender the properties and now the Justice
Ministry alleges that the deal she reached wasn’t with them, but with the Office
of the Prosecutor instead. “And I ask myself: if the agreement was with
the Office of the Prosecutor, why will the State sell all my belongings at a public
auction next week?“
As to Dominguez’s fear for her live, Felix said, “imagine,
I’m in a prison whose food is cooked by inmates sentenced to 30 years in
prison, and I’m not afraid”
Casa de Campo captures a quartet of 2013 World Travel
La Romana, Dominican Republic. - Casa de Campo—the
number-one resort in the Caribbean with the finest golf in the region—had its
international reputation validated at the recent 2013 World Travel Awards.
At the awards’ Caribbean and North American Gala, Casa de
Campo won the top award in four categories:
Leading Golf Resort 2013
Leading Golf Resort 2013
Republic’s Leading Golf Resort 2013
Republic’s Leading Resort 2013
Casa de Campo also was nominated in the category of
Caribbean’s Leading Resort and in the category of World’s Leading Sports
Resort, a title it has won 10 times in the 12 years it has been awarded. Casa de Campo is known for The Sporting Life
as it showcases world-caliber facilities and renowned instructors from the
equestrian, tennis, shooting and golf worlds.
The World Travel Awards, which for 20 years have been
recognized around the globe as the travel industry’s highest accolade,
celebrate companies, organizations, and brands that “are pushing the boundaries
of industry excellence in product and service. ”
Not only did Casa de Campo win an unprecedented four
awards, it also continued four lengthy winning streaks. This was the resort’s
seventh straight win as World’s Leading Golf Resort; its sixth consecutive
title as the Caribbean’s Leading Golf Resort (and its eighth win in 13 years);
its 10th consecutive time earning the award for Dominican Republic’s Leading
Golf Resort (making it the only winner ever in that category); and ninth
straight win as the Dominican Republic’s Leading Resort (also making it the
only winner ever in that category).
Casa de Campo won several other prestigious awards in
2013. It was named as one of the “Top 25 Golf Resorts in the World” by LINKS
Magazine, declared the No. 1 golf resort in the Caribbean and Mexico by Cigar
Aficionado, and was cited as the Best Resort in the Caribbean and its “Teeth of
the Dog” the best golf course by Caribbean Journal, the leading digital
newspaper in the region.
“We are honored to have our hard work noticed and
rewarded by so many fine organizations,” said Peter Bonell, Chief Marketing
Officer. “These awards only serve to make the entire staff of Casa de Campo
work harder to maintain our high standards. ”
Casa de Campo boasts 7,000 golf resort community
offers an unmatched array of experiences found in the Caribbean, including
choice accommodations – hotel rooms, suites or spacious villa homes; a variety
of dining establishments, including The Beach Club by Le Cirque and La Cana by
Il Circo; The Sporting Life - unequalled sports experiences such as 90-holes of
Pete Dye-designed golf; shooting center, polo, tennis, fishing/sailing from a
world-class marina and Casa de Campo Yacht Club, exclusive beaches, spa, and Altos
de Chavon artists’ village, with a wide array of museums, art galleries,
boutique shopping, a chapel, and 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, site of
international touring concerts.
property is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Preferred Hotels &
Resorts and Great Golf Resorts of the World.
Visit casadecampo. com. do, or follow social media pages:
Facebook. com/casadecamporesort and on Twitter @casadecampo.
Dominican Today -
Santo Domingo. – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping reduce energy costs in the Caribbean by supporting regulatory reforms that promote clean energy and by helping local banks provide the finance needed to develop sustainable energy sources. This program is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada.
As part of the program, IFC is co-hosting Caribbean Tourism: The Energy Forum, the first regional event to focus on lowering the electricity bill for the Caribbean’s hospitality sector. The forum, held in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic from Dec. 10-11, convenes global experts to share expertise in energy efficiency and renewable energy for the Caribbean’s tourism industry.
More than 97 percent of electricity in the Caribbean is generated from fossil fuels. With rates averaging US$0. 30 per kWh, electricity bills can soar two to three times higher than in other parts of Latin America. Reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and supporting cleaner, more efficient energy production is critical to helping island economies grow sustainably. There is potential for renewable energy, but many Caribbean countries lack the regulatory frameworks and know-how to support it. In addition, businesses face formidable hurdles in accessing credit to invest in clean energy.
IFC is helping energy service companies and equipment vendors understand how to structure projects for financing. IFC is also building the capacity of local financial institutions to identify sustainable energy projects and meet their financing needs. In the Dominican Republic, for example, Banco BHD has an active line of credit with IFC to finance sustainable energy projects and also received advisory services.
“Banco BHD has identified sustainable energy finance as a strategic business opportunity,” said Steven Puig, General Manager of Banco BHD in Santo Domingo. “We have been very pleased that IFC’s know-how and long term funding have facilitated our leadership in bringing cost-efficient and cleaner energy solutions to the Dominican Republic. ”
Several Caribbean countries are taking steps toward a more sustainable energy matrix. Barbados is promoting solar energy while Jamaica has implemented energy audits for better efficiency in the hotel industry. Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts & Nevis are working on regulatory reforms to shield themselves from volatile oil markets.
“High energy rates have long been the Caribbean’s Achilles heel; many countries allocate a significant part of their budget to importing energy. At the same time, they are vulnerable to the environmental impacts associated with fossil-fuel consumption, such as air pollution, rising sea levels, and coral bleaching,” said Jun Zhang, IFC Senior Manager for the Caribbean. “Transforming energy use is critical to their economic future and environmental sustainability. ”
Read original at Dominican Today.
(Posted 17:29 Tuesday by DRSol NewsHound. Viewed 4337 times.)
Dominican Today -
Santo Domingo- Taiwan’s Government disbursed US$1. 5 million of a total of US$3. 0 million to modernize with leading edge technology equipment for “Airport security project “ for the Airport Security Dept. and Civil Aviation Agency, the Economy Minister Temístocles Montas announced Tuesday.
Taiwan Ambassador Tomas Ping-Fu Hou handed the check to Montas and Defense minister Sigfrido Pared, during a National Palace ceremony.
Senior officials and the directors of Airport Security and of Civil Aviation also participated in the activity.
Read original at Dominican Today.
(Posted 16:59 Tuesday by DRSol NewsHound. Viewed 4840 times.)
The Dominican Sun - Across the Dominican Republic in the last 24 hours the highest observed temperature by DRSol was 86 at La Romana Int. A. The coolest reading came from Barahona with an overnight low of 68. A few spotty light to moderate rain showers were reported, and rain is being observed right now as well at El Catey Intl and Santiago Intl A. Skies were generally partly cloudy. Winds are averaging 9 mph from the SE, with a peak gust to 18 mph seen at 4PM yesterday afternoon at Arroyo Barril. By the Numbers DR cities reported rain 10% of the time, and thunderstorms 0%. Average reported rainfall intensity on a scale of 0 to 100 was 38. Cloud cover totaled 52%. Click above to view summaries for the last week or last month. Last updated at 12:28PM. Read original at The Dominican Sun.
(Posted 16:29 Tuesday by DRSol NewsHound. Viewed 5423 times.)
Santo Domingo- The Industry and Commerce Ministry posted unchanged prices on all fuels from December 7 to 12, when premium gasoline will still cost RD$249. 40, and regular will cost RD$234. 80 per gallon.
Premium diesel will cost RD$219. 70 and regular goes to RD$213. 00, while optimal diesel will cost RD$227. 80 per gallon.
Avtur will still cost RD$156. 40; kerosene will cost RD$ 194. 20; fuel oil will cost RD$ 144. 96 per gallon; propane gas will cost RD$108. 50, while natural gas also remains unchanged at RD$30. 50 per cubic meter.
The Dominican Republic Central Bank’s average posted exchange rate of RD$42. 57 per dollar was used to calculate all fuel prices.
Santo Domingo. – Viva-Trilogy Dominicana S. A. , a Dominican
mobile network, announced the completion of a backup power pilot
program using a GE Durathon battery and a remote monitoring
and diagnostic (RMD) system from OmniMetrix, LLC, an Acorn Energy
The pilot resulted in an 88 percent reduction
in backup power costs and diesel fuel expenses as well as a 60 percent
decrease in site energy costs.
“The Dominican Republic is known for an unreliable grid in certain areas,“ said Edgar Geidans, chief technology officer of Trilogy International Partners,
Viva-Trilogy’s parent company. “Power is often lost for four to eight
hours at a time, during which our diesel generators provide power to our
telecommunication towers. “
The four month-long pilot program demonstrated
the value of pairing a remote monitoring and diagnostic system with GE’s
Durathon Battery. The GE Durathon Battery and OmniMetrix RMD system
were installed at a base transceiver station in a part of the Dominican Republic
known for its frequent power outages.
During these outages, the battery
was able to supplement electricity typically produced by a diesel
generator to power the site. The OmniMetrix RMD system provided
real-time data on both the battery and the grid’s overall performance.
Santo Domingo. – Political leaders and officials agreed Friday to support the implementation of the Constitutional Court ruling, and said that the Dominican State must exercise its sovereignty to define regulations on its nationality.
The leaders meeting took place after the visit of the Inter-American Human Rights
Commission which in its
report on its visit to the country called the Constitutional Court ruling as discriminatory and a violation of the rights of Dominicans of foreign
origin, especially Haitians.
Opposition PRD party president Miguel Vargas said that national sovereignty and human rights must be respected above all. Vargas urged the Dominican government “to not allow pressures that may affect our right to sovereignty. “
Santo Domingo. – In an attempt to reduce the country’s crime
rate evangelical churches throughout the Dominican capital partnered with local authorities recently to exchange gang members’
illegal weapons for Bibles.
Over 1,300 guns, knives and machetes were recovered during
the month-long initiative that prompted church leaders to go into the
city’s most corrupt and violent neighborhoods.
Braulio Porte, a pastor from the Concilio de la Cristianización Nacional, congratulated all the young people, “and everyone who turned in their
weapons, that was an act of goodwill. “
Esther Cristiana Estrella, from the Nueva Vida Mirador Sur, said the crime prevention plan
was going to become a nationwide effort and noted that while they
visited neighborhoods, many confessed they were plotting violent