Published On: Wed, Jun 9th, 2021

Central Bank considers selling Banco di Caribe

WILLEMSTAD — The Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten considers putting the shares of Banco di Caribe up for sale in an effort to generate revenue for the restructuring of insurance company Ennia. The potential sale has been approved by the court in Curacao, the Antilliaans Dagblad reports.

The bank employs 250 people at its headquarters in Curacao and another 100 at branch offices in Aruba, Bonaire and St. Maarten. In Philipsburg, the bank has fifteen employees on the payroll.

In a reaction to the publication in Antilliaans Dagblad, the Central Bank issued a statement to clarify the situation.

On July 4, 2018, the Court in First Instance in Curacao approved an emergency regulation for Ennia Caribe Leven and Ennia Caribe Holding. Its purpose was (and is) to restore the insurer’s solvency in the interest of its policyholders. “All options are being considered that may contribute to a successful restructuring,” the Central Bank states.

Among those options is the “possible sale” of some of Ennia’s assets, including the shares it holds in Banco di Caribe.

Banco di Caribe is not subject to the emergency regulation, as there was no need for it,” the statement continues. “The bank makes a positive contribution to the Ennia Group. A sale would generate revenue benefitting the restructuring process.”

According to the Antilliaans Dagblad Banco di Caribe reported 1.6 million guilders (almost $894 million) in profits before tax in 2020 and 1.3 million (($726,000) after tax. In 2019 pre-tax profits were still 17.4 million guilders ($9.7 million) and after-tax profits 8.8 million ($4.9 million).

Assets increased to 182.4 million ($101.9 million) per December 31, 2020, and the bank’s loan portfolio remained above the one-billion mark and went from 1,045 million to 1,065 million guilders. Client deposits declined slightly to 1.5 billion guilders.

Before the emergency regulation, the Ennia Group was controlled by the Parman Group of Iranian-American Hushang Ansary. Born in 1927, Ansary is now 94 years of age. Due to the emergency regulation, he has lost all his influence over the Ennia Group because the insurance company is under the control of the Central Bank.

One of the issues the Central Bank is investigating is the value of Mullet Bay in St. Maarten. The property is heavily overvalued on Ennia’s balance sheet. A new appraisal is almost completed, thus enabling the completion of the company’s annual account for 2017.

Ansary objected to the sale of Banco di Caribe, claiming that this would financially hurt him. But the Central Bank denied that: “The sale will bring money into the company so there is no loss of value.” The Bank also points out that it does not need Parman’s permission to sell the bank.

Read also:
The Ennia saga – How Ansary fought the Central Bank every step of the way
Hushang Ansary – The colorful character at the heart of the Ennia-controversy
The Ennia debacle – How Ansary ignored all red flags
The Ennia saga and the crucial role of Mullet Bay

Photo caption: Banco di Caribe head office in Curacao. Photo taken from Antilliaans Dagblad.