BOJ suspends Alliance Financial Services as FID probe continuesSunday, December 05, 2021
BY ANDREW LAIDLEY AND DAVID ROSE
The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) says it is awaiting the outcome of the impending court case involving the principals of Alliance Financial Services, Peter Chin and Robert Chin, before deciding on its next move involving the entity which had its licence suspended on Friday for breaches of the Bank of Jamaica Act, the Banking Services Act, and the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Natalie Haynes, deputy governor - banking, currency operations & financial markets infrastructure at the central bank, told the Jamaica Observer that when the case is complete the BOJ will make its assessment of the principals.
“You would have to look at the reason behind the suspension in the first place; we suspended and not revoked [their licence] because charges were laid against the principals,” she said before adding, “the charge affects the persons' status as a BOJ licensee, so we thought it best to suspend [the licence].”
Haynes explained further that, “A fundamental pillar of any Bank of Jamaica licensee is looking at the fitness and propriety of the principals...so it will be dependent on that [to make the next move]. I can't sit here and determine what that outcome [of the court case] is going to be.”
She said she could not speak any further on the matter since it is now before the court.
The men are set to face the courts on December 16 after both were granted bail in the sum of $1 million each after their arrest on Thursday by the Financial Investigations Division (FID).
The company's licence to operate cambio and remittance services was also suspended by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) and the authorisation previously granted to the financial services entity to operate in the BOJ Fintech Regulatory Sandbox was revoked on Friday.
As outlined in a previous Jamaica Observer article, Alliance Investment Management Limited (AIML), Alliance Finance Limited (AFL), and their President Peter Chin and Vice-President Robert Chin were charged on Thursday, December 2, 2021 with various breaches of the Bank of Jamaica Act, the Banking Services Act, and the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Alliance Financial Services Limited (AFSL) was previously licensed to operate cambios at the following locations: 7 Belmont Road, Kingston 5, St Andrew; 1 Manchester Road, Mandeville, Manchester; 1 - 3 Manchester Avenue, May Pen, Clarendon; Shop 8 Liguanea Plaza, 134 Old Hope Road, St Andrew; Shop 3B Portmore Mall, Portmore, St Catherine.
Consequent on the suspension, AFSL is no longer authorised to conduct the business of buying and selling foreign exchange. It is also not authorised to continue offering MoneyGram remittance services. Customers utilising MoneyGram services may continue to do so at locations operated by Lasco Financial Services Limited, JN Money Services Limited, and VMBS Money Transfer Services Limited.
As well, AFSL is not authorised to operate as a payment service provider. However, current holders of the Alliance e-Pay cards will continue to utilise available balances on their cards, but will not be able to cash out or top up account balances.
Sunday Finance reached out to Peter Chin for a comment on the BOJ's decisions but was told he was in meetings and unavailable to comment. The advice issued was to call back on Monday “if the company is open”.
Efforts to reach their attorney, Tom Tavares-Finson, proved futile.
This is not the first time AFSL has been called out by regulators. The Financial Services Commission (FSC) raised an objection to the company's planned initial public offering (IPO) in 2020.
After being delayed initially by the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, AFSL was forced to revise its plans to go public in January 2020. The company returned on December 21, 2020 to raise $1.99 billion in an offer which would see principals Peter and Robert Chin each selling 10 per cent through their holding companies.
However, the offer was suspended a week later based on the selling shareholders being made aware of a matter related to a connected party.
Following the suspension refunds were made to investors. The lead broker, arranger, and listing agent was JMMB Securities Limited and Carter Lindo was the legal advisor for the transaction. The offer was suspended indefinitely from January 28 with no further details on a possible return to the market.
Alliance Finance Limited owed a loan of $774.53 million to AFSL up to September 2020. AFSL took out a three-year unsecured $1.35-billion bond at 7.25 per cent in September 2019 through the JCSD Trustee Services Limited, which it then lent to AIML (St Lucia) in the form of a promissory note at 7.50 per cent to mature in September 2022.