Exposing Our Shame

Submitted by Heather Cole

Submitted by Heather Cole

Several months ago, I wrote an article entitled Independence: A Blessing or a Curse. The next week, it was my intent to write an article on how the banking sector fits into the equation. I also intended to put in an insert from my manuscript. Then I wanted to include Ann Riley-Fox’s story. However, I kept putting it off. The news I received yesterday was not good. Here is what I may have written months ago. Maybe now it is being written at an opportune time.

My earliest memory of a financial institution was not pretty. It was about the Civic Society in Bridgetown.

The Civic Society was located on the corner of the eastern end of Eastern end of Swan Street. There were few banks back then and many people including my mother saved some of their wages there. I do not know how much she was paid -it never entered my mind to ask but I believe that it was not much. However, she set aside a little each week to deposit at the Civic Society in Bridgetown. Maybe she was saving to buy a house for our education or just saving for a rainy day. I do not remember how old I was but one Saturday when she went to deposit some money the Civic Society was closed. There was no notice on the door to advise if the institution was closed or relocated. In dramatic fashion Civic Society just disappeared. It never reopened. Gone were her life savings –so too the life savings of many poor Barbadians. How much I do not know. I was too young to understand. I do not recall if she cried, if so not in my presence.

Thoughts of it now that I am grown would put me in despair if every cent I possessed disappeared into thin air. I do not remember if the newspaper carried a story about it. We never found out what happened to the money. It was just gone, probably into someone’s pockets. As far as I am aware no one was ever held accountable for what happen to that money. Maybe it was a secret someone took to their grave. After that, for the rest of her working life, my mother never trusted any financial institution and saved her money at home until she retired and her pension had to be deposited into a bank account.

It was not the last time Barbadians suffered losses through financial institutions. It has happened with banks and insurances companies and the results were always the same; the people are the ones who loose and are not protected to prevent future reoccurrences. The biggest of these to date has been the CLICO scandal.

It would be remiss of me not to look at the role played by the banking sector in a post-independence Barbados. With an excess of 15 billion in liquidity banks have very restrictive, deceptive and abusive lending practices or refuse to lend to black Barbadians. They have always portrayed a lack of corporate social responsibility to the poor. In our 50th year of independence it is a crying shame that there is no legislation to ensure that the banks meet the entire credit needs of the communities that they serve. There is no Equal Credit Opportunity Act. By now the banks should have been meeting the credit needs by providing services and consumer loans to low and moderate income areas. They willing open their hands to receive money so to add to their savings or reinvest but hardly lend to the poor black community. One reason why black entrepreneurs and business persons have not grown significantly is because of restrictive banking policies.

There is however another occurrence that the banking sector seems to have escaped unscathed with their reputation intact, people are ashamed to have themselves identified as victims. It is known as foreclosure or the banks taking up a person’s house. Whatever you may call it; we seem not to want to discuss it. Yet thousands of Barbadians have lost their homes due to the harsh economic environment that has caused them to lose their jobs.

Ann Riley-Fox, who was a successful black business woman in Barbados, yesterday she lost her fight with First Caribbean International Bank who unceremoniously evicted her from her property. A change in the business policies of the bank negatively affected her as a black business person. It was as though she was targeted and set up for failure. I said she lost her fight but what I really intend to say is that her fight must now become the fight of every Barbadian, those who have lost their homes, those who are losing their homes and those who do not know if and when they will lose their jobs which will jeopardize their mortgage. It is time to cast off our shame and rise up and fight back restrictive policies that for far too long have never been in our favour. Some may argue that we have credit unions but what good are credit unions that turn around and bank your saving with the banks that are against your growth, economic independence and advancement?

The very fact that black banks are growing now in the USA should be taken note of. We spend half off our lives working and saving our money at these commercial banks, then for 20 years or so pay them a mortgage. Then one day you lose your job and what happens the bank forgets the good times in a flash. It is time that Barbadians to pool their resources to form their own bank and withdraw their finances from the foreign commercial banks . It is my hope that the Fairness Committee will examine this and other initiatives.

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96 Comments on “Exposing Our Shame”

  1. David November 21, 2016 at 8:43 PM #

    Is it a Caribbean website or Canadian.


  2. Bush Tea November 21, 2016 at 9:24 PM #

    FCIB is a well known scam bank with (formal or informal) insider scams designed to separate gullible customers from their assets. It got worse after they acquired Barclays.
    Bushie knows this first hand…
    But Bushmen don’t mek dat kinda sport…. as they found out.


  3. NorthernObserver November 21, 2016 at 9:34 PM #

    Good question. It is registered differently from the Canadian sites, but as to where the content emanates from, I have no idea. I doubt they have a global clearing house…or maybe they do.


  4. Heather November 21, 2016 at 11:31 PM #

    @David re you post. I will reach out to Ann.

    @ Charles Skeete First Caribbean has sold 1.5 billion in real estate debt through out the Caribbean for 250 million to a Syrian family. This is not making something else not a profit.
    There is something fishy going on.


  5. Well Well & Consequences November 22, 2016 at 5:21 AM #

    As I said…..it’s well known the banks on the island line up their personal buyers for auctions long before the mortgage defaults, this is just a scheme to steal property from unsuspecting clients as soon as there is an inevitable contraction in the economy.


  6. Hal Austin November 22, 2016 at 5:38 AM #

    It should be illegal for a repossessed property to be sold for less than the market rate, not for the outstanding sum owed.
    What we get in Barbados are these secret deals in which the banks – they are mainly banks – auction the property to their favourite partners for the outstanding sum – usually in cash.
    In the meantime they also claim on the mortgage indemnity guarantee cover, say for 75 per cent of the loan. So, it is very profitable for the banks (lenders) to repossess property.
    The equity that has built up in the property goes to the new buyer. The loser is the former owner.
    This is theft. In a culture dominated by lawyers why does this dishonesty continue?


  7. Well Well & Consequences November 22, 2016 at 6:02 AM #

    “This is theft. In a culture dominated by lawyers why does this dishonesty continue?”

    It’s a culture dominated by thieving, dishonest lawyers, who work bpth sides against the middle and benefit financially firom all sides.


  8. charles skeete November 22, 2016 at 6:21 AM #

    “The contracting world/Barbados economy was entirely NOT Ms. Riley-Fox’ fault, but the fact that she had a large new mortgage in a contracting economy left her with no wiggle room and the bank pounced (or waited patiently for 4 years)”

    These words from the
    It is clear that Mrs Riley -Fox in her desires to satisfy her wants and not her needs allowed the trappings of Vanity to overrule her commonsense and has fallen into an abyss of her own making and now left to cry wolf wolf. There is no doubt that banking institutions are high profile predators and I have no wish to defend their vulturistic methods of operation which in this instance is all about collecting what is owed to them as agreed to in their favour. Mrs Riley-fox should be easily able to sell the house if as she says it has that much worth and pay off the bank and keep the remainder.


  9. David November 22, 2016 at 6:24 AM #


    Surprise you have given your ‘mouth’ such liberty and the full facts of the Riley-Fox matter is not known. In fact you commented above that you agreed there are gaps in the story.


  10. Bush Tea November 22, 2016 at 7:25 AM #

    All banks are generally vultures that prey on the vulnerable and weak – as is the wont of such birds.
    But FCIB is more than that. They are dangerous snakes – or at least they are infested with snakes, who SET OUT to entrap even those who, with guidance could succeed.

    Bushie was personally disgusted with similar attempts which they made in a matter involving bush property, while assuming that the bushman could be located among the vulnerable….

    LOL…Bushie walks softly, but carries a big-ass whacker….

    Ff’ers !!!
    They are lucky that Bushie did not refer the matter to his step father yuh!!!


  11. NorthernObserver November 22, 2016 at 1:20 PM #

    “Mrs Riley-fox should be easily able to sell the house if as she says it has that much worth and pay off the bank and keep the remainder.”

    the KEY fact most are missing. The GAP is the difference between monies claimed to be owing and the market value. If there was any amount of equity, of course the owner would sell?


  12. David November 22, 2016 at 1:34 PM #


    Also if the bank has a lien on the property it is not Riley-Fox’s decision to sell.


  13. Hal Austin November 22, 2016 at 1:58 PM #

    I pointed out that the facts as known were not clear. I don’t think they are levelling with us. I still believe that. I believe the woman should have sought professional advice – a financial adviser, a business consultant, or even lawyer to look at the agreement.


  14. Hal Austin November 22, 2016 at 1:59 PM #

    My other point was a general point about business practice in Barbados. I can give an example, but will resist it.


  15. David November 22, 2016 at 2:03 PM #

    What we need to understand is if the bank extended a temporary overdraft or if the $300,000 was advanced on an adhoc basis. If it was adhoc to fund stock this is where Riley-Fox would have exercised poor judgement. IF is the overdraft was not casual then this opens another discussion. We need more information. Some of us who run businesses would then be in a better position to offer constructive comment.


  16. NorthernObserver November 22, 2016 at 2:55 PM #

    Why can’t the owner sell if there is a lien? The demands on the title just have to be satisfied in order of 1-2-3 etc. These “may” exceed the proceeds, just means the holder with the lowest priority gets less. The lien is just a claim against the title, which prevents the owner from selling without settling outstanding debts.
    If the claims against the property exceed the value, obviously those of lowest priority may not wish a sale, for they could end up with nothing. But the lien expires at sale, it does not transfer to the new owner, even if unsatisfied.

    The thread author posted “sold 1.5 billion in real estate debt through out the Caribbean for 250 million”. One must understand DEBT means ALL monies owing, not the market value of the underlying asset. A $300,000 mortgage (loan) can quickly grow well beyond if payments cease. So the DEBT is growing much faster than the value of the underlying asset (the property). When the mortgage is in arrears, frequently so are the property taxes and utility bills. In many cases one finds several mortgages.

    So 1.5 billion in DEBT, may only have underlying assets worth $400 million. And now the new debt owner has to collect or begin foreclosure. The DEBT itself is not title. It is a messy and expensive process.

    As we have seen on this short thread, the lender gets the blame. One good reason to sell debt, even at a discount.


  17. David November 22, 2016 at 3:05 PM #


    If the mortgagee has first charge on the property how can the mortgagor act? Please be clear using explanations for dummies.


  18. NorthernObserver November 22, 2016 at 6:12 PM #

    If the mortgagee (lender) has first charge (first lien position, meaning they get paid before all other charges) on the property how can the mortgagor (borrower) act?

    The borrower is the property owner. They can sell whenever they wish. At closing, the lawyers are required to settle all claims in a specific order, and after settlement, whatever funds remain, if any, belong to the property owner.

    The matter gets more complicated where there are multiple claims (liens) against the property, and where the selling price will not cover these claims.

    When I said messy, there is frequently a legal battle for position. Also cases where somebody appears and has a document where the owner borrowed money and ‘pledged the house; as security. But if this lender did not register their position legally, they are out of luck. Even if their loan was say prior to a second mortgage, if the second mortgagee did not know of this loan, how can the lender of the $100,000 now ‘jump ahead’.

    Why the Land registration office of which Ms Beckles speaks so often, is so vital to any economy.


  19. David November 22, 2016 at 9:03 PM #

    Thanks, that was clear.


  20. Cherylann Long November 23, 2016 at 11:47 AM #

    It is so disappointing to see how the bank have treated my aunt and so many others. She have been a single mom for so many years and yet she found a way to start her own business. For quite a while, her business was successful and opened job opportunities for many in Barbados. However, when business sales slowed down at her Bridgetown location, instead of giving-up she attempted to open another store in Holetown. Thus, the bank blocked access to lending her funds that would have rescued her business, open more job opportunities, and repay the bank loans. Although things seemed hopeless for my aunty, she never gave up. Since then she has been battling her way back to where she could payoff her bank loans and rescue her home from their clutches. There is not a quitting bone in her. Since loosing her businesses in Bridgetown and in Holetown, she opened a restaurant and a resale shop with help from her friends and others who loved her. My aunt is not getting younger and although she worked so heard for so long, her ability to retire when she chooses to or when it chooses her, is questionable. Aunty Ann has been the backbone of everyone in our family. She is deeply loved by all of us. Yes some of us show love in strange ways but it we are no different from any other family. Aunty we love you and want the very best for you, as you want for us. Many of us would not be who we are; or, where we are if it wasn’t for you. We are continually praying for you. May God continue to bless you.


  21. Verona Michael December 22, 2016 at 8:17 PM #

    This behavior is not unique to Barbados or against women or Blacks. I reside in St. Kitts and the outdated civil laws see many persons loosing their homes or even thrown into jail because they cannot pay an outstanding debt and mind you, the debt still remains to be paid even after serving time incarcerated. It’s the laws that need to be repealed but I personally believe that the lawyers like it this way for them to make as much money as they can.


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