The Bank of Nova Scotia, a Canadian multinational which operates under the name Scotiabank, now has indicated that it will close its Antigua branch, and make refunds to its clients, rather than bow to the demands of Antiguan politicians that it offer to sell the branch to local businessmen and bankers. Scotiabank sold a number of its Caribbean branches to Trinidad-based Republic, but senior officials in the government of Antigua objected, and demanded a Right of First Refusal for local interests, failing which it would withhold regulatory approval for the sale to Republic. Antigua's heavy-handed approach to the situation has not been well-received by Scotiabank.
Soctiabank, whose official position has been that low revenues from its local branches accounted for its withdrawal from several East Caribbean countries, but some banking experts believe that the increased risks, originating from US regulatory and law enforcement agencies, especially in the fields of money laundering and terrorist financing, is the real reason for the Scotiabank action. Antigua is no stranger to money laundering and international sanctions violations issues, and the bank obviously fears American action against it.
Other legal observers point to the ongoing scandals, involving dodgy individuals who are awarded citizen and passports, in Antigua's Citizenship by Investment (CBI/CIP) program, and those where official corruption is alleged, has soured many North American banks on Antigua.
One other issue: Antigua is no stranger to bank failure and bank fraud, and Scotiabank could be found liable to depositors whose accounts are sold to a local group, where their bank fails, or where illicit large loans to government officials are never repaid.
Finally, Antigua's proposed China Colony, the Yida International project, which will result in an autonomous Chinese-owned enclave, apparently outside local control, which will significantly rise Antigua's status for Country Risk, as well as alienate the United States, has been listed as a major factor in the Scotiabank decision to leave Antigua.