The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) believes that Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell should be made to repay the monies lost by depositors of the now defunct Capital International Bank Ltd.
Congress made the call in light of the 23-year prison term handed down last month by the high court on the bank’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, 66-year-old Finton De Bourg.
The controversial figure was found guilty in November of 6 counts of fraud including applying for his own benefit more than EC$16 million from the bank.
Speaking to reporters at the weekly Congress press conference, the party’s Deputy Political Leader, Joseph Andall recalled that the saga started when De Bourg applied for a license to operate a commercial bank in the country, but the then NNP government of Dr. Mitchell was strongly advised against granting it.
He said the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) had even advised the 1984-90 former NNP government of late Prime Minister, Herbert Blaize against the granting a license to De Bourg
“The NNP government blatantly disregarded the ECCB’s advice; and (in 1988) went ahead and granted a commercial license to Mr. De Bourg so that he could begin operations,” he added.
According to Andall, “the NNP were also openly engaged in encouraging citizens to save and deposit with Capbank.”
He told reporters that as the then Minister of Finance, current Prime Minister Dr. Mitchell “should be held personally accountable and should be made to compensate the depositors”.
“We believe that the people should not rest until this is done because it was Dr. Mitchell and his government that granted the license for the operation of that bank against strong professional advice.
“This is the same Dr. Mitchell who said that he has assets exceeding EC$19M so maybe some of those assets should be targeted as a means of compensating the unfortunate depositors.
“These are the same poor people that Dr. Mitchell and his party constantly talk about (they) love so much. So the time has now come to put that love in action and to provide some form of restitution from their personal assets to the poor people that they love to talk about so much.
The second in command in Congress emphasised that “the bottom line is (that) people worked very hard for their monies and they must receive some form of compensation from Dr. Mitchell and the legal luminary who facilitated transactions on behalf of the bank and on Mr. De Bourg’s personal behalf.”
A law firm owned and operated by a former high-ranking State official has been identified as being used by DeBourg as a clearing house for his controversial bank.
Speculation is rife that the law firm is behind moves to put together a legal team to mount a challenge to the stiff prison sentence handed down on DeBourg by female high court judge, Justice Paula Gilford.
In an attempt to bring some form of relief to the small depositors, the current government of PM Mitchell paid out EC$300, 000.00 to them about two years ago.
As part of the court sentence, De Bourg was told that when he is released from prison, he will be given 5 years to compensate CapBank of EC$16, 625, 658.25 that is missing at an interest rate of 6%.
If he defaults, DeBourg will be sent back to prison to serve another 3 years.