By Koos Sneek
It is since November 1st that the transition took place from the accounts of all clients of Windward Islands Bank Ltd on Statia to Maduro & Curiel’s Bank Bonaire. This transition and especially the way it has been carried out has disrupted the life of many inhabitants in Statia. First, let me explain that none of the account holders on Statia have requested for their accounts to be moved from one bank to another. This has been a unilateral decision from those two banks, who apparently have the authority to do so without even requesting the approval of their clients.
As the heading of this article already suggests, it has turned out to be a drama and great harassment for many if not all clients of the Windward Islands Bank in Statia. Up to today, almost a month later, long lines are at the branch office from now Maduro & Curiel’s Bank to regulate their accounts. Many clients still cannot access their accounts. Credit card accounts have become invisible. Debit cards have disappeared. What happened with their balances, nobody knows. Local employees do not know the answers. Payments made are not credited to the accounts they are supposed to go. Salaries are paid by employers but have not been received by the employees. The same counts for other types of transfers. Balances on loan accounts have been changed. ATM cards and credit cards do not work. Both ATM machines are broken down regularly or are simply out of cash.
And to add pain to injury, without even having the decency to inform their clients, the Maduro & Curiel’s Bank is slapping fees on their clients that are out of this world. I will explain a few.
Where a business client of the Windward Islands Bank was paying a nine-dollar monthly administration fee and a small one-time transfer fee at the end of the month, now for every local transaction one dollar and six cents is charged. The six cents is ABB which amounts to 6%, while the ABB for services on Statia is only 4%. I understand that those fees will also apply for private accounts from January 1st.
A small business like mine still does about forty transactions per month. Our bank charges have gone up by more than 250%. And this bank is doing this without even having the decency to inform their clients about this rather steep increase.
Next to this, every cash deposit is charged a 1% fee with a minimum of five dollars. And unfortunately, in a place like Statia still a lot of people prefer to use cash.
I would like to call on the management of the bank to stop hiding there in your Bonaire offices but to have decency to come forward and apologize to your clients for the mesh you have created and to explain your need and reasons to multiply your fees. Is it because we have no other choice than to bank with your institution? So, you can do what you want and how you want?
I also like to call on the Dutch central bank, DNB, to start an investigation in the whole affair. Can a bank treat their clientele in the manner Maduro & Curiel’s Bank Bonaire does? Can a bank just like this, without substantiation raise their fees with this ridiculously high amount?