Business

NCB cuts remittance services

Tuesday, January 07, 2014    

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NATIONAL Commercial Bank (NCB) announced yesterday that it is exiting the remittance services business in an effort to mitigate risks such as money laundering, financing of terrorism and lottery scam activities.

According to the Jamaican banking giant, its provision of remittance services had been negatively impacting its global risk profile. NCB offers remittance services through subsidiary companies, NCB Remittance Services Jamaica and NCB Remittance Services UK.

"This decision was taken after further review of our business models across the NCB Group, as we aim to ensure that we employ a solid corporate governance structure and operate within a robust compliance framework," said NCB in a press release. "We thank our customers for their business and anticipate that they will appreciate and support the action taken."

The move comes just a few months after NCB decided to close most accounts held by cambio dealers across the country, with the financial institution citing that sector's exposure to "money laundering and terrorist financing risks" and its need to "employ a solid governance structure and operate within a robust compliance framework".

NCB stated that it has cancelled existing agent relationships with MoneyGram Services, effective January 22 for NCB Remittance Services UK and March 31 for NCB Remittance Services Jamaica. NCB Remittance Services UK will cease all forms of remittances, effective January 22, except for the remittance of pension payments, the company said.

The notorious Jamaican lottery scam has impacted the local remittance sector.

Several violent crimes in western Jamaica, including murders, have been blamed on the lottery scam which is being used by criminals to rob mostly elderly people in North America of millions of dollars. According to the police, income from the scam amounts to US$300 million annually, or about J$27 billion, most of which enters the island through remittance agencies, as victims are often forced to remit funds to claim their prizes.

GraceKennedy Money Services controls the local franchise for remittance giant Western Union and had to cease operation at some of its outlets in western Jamaica and tighten the screws to prevent scammers collecting their ill-gotten gains.

Since February, all persons collecting remittances at Western Union must produce a Money Transfer Control Number in order to collect their cash.

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