Published On: Fri, Jun 16th, 2023

MP Brison’s banking law is now at the Council of Advice

PHILIPSBURG – The Council of Ministers has approved the draft Right to a Bank Account law according to a press release by its creator, parliamentarian Rolando Brison. The release claims that more than 21 percent of the country’s residents are currently unable to obtain a basic bank account.

Brison speaks in his press release of “unchecked and at times reckless tactics” local banks use in determining who has a right to a bank account. “The draft law is a major step to empowering our citizens to achieve financial security,” he stated.

After the Council of Ministers approved the draft on May 16, it went to the Council of Advice for scrutiny.

Brison criticizes the way banks deal with their prospective clients. “They must go through enormous amounts of undue scrutiny and red tape before they are allowed to store their legally obtained earnings.”

After (and if) parliament approves the draft law “all citizens and businesses legally established in St. Maarten will have the right to a bank account,” Brison stated.

The draft law forces banks to allow all legal residents to open a bank account in Antillean guilders. It also contains rules for refusing to open such an account. This is for instance the case if an applicant already has an account with another local bank. Bank can also refuse to open an account for applicants who were less than two years ago irrevocably sentenced for crimes like forgery, providing incorrect information, fraud, fraudulent bankruptcy, and money laundering. The draft does not exclude applicants who have been sentenced for murder, robbery, or theft from access to a bank account.

Another issue with the draft is Brison’s wish to establish a Bureau of Consumer Protection Finances and Banking. This bureau would be independent where it concerns its organization, management of resources, and looking after its interests. The Ministry of Finance will have to finance the bureau, but the draft does not give any indication about the composition of this organization or about the annual costs to operate it. “Composition, task and work method can be determined by a national decree containing general measures,” the draft states.

Brison states that he consulted local banks during the process of drafting the legislation