FirstCaribbean cleared of Trafigura wrong

Three months after it became embroiled in an alleged breach of customer confidentiality in the Trafigura scandal, FirstCaribbean International Bank Tuesday absolved itself of liability, claiming it had adhered to the law and banking regulations.

In a press statement announcing the conclusion of its investigation into the alleged leak, Managing Director Milton Brady said: “The evidence has not confirmed that there was a release of confidential customer information by any employee of the FirstCaribbean International Bank into the public domain.”

The bank said that the report’s findings have been forwarded to the appropriate banking authorities, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.

Contacted by The Gleaner for comment, Mr. Brady declined to depart from the text of an obviously legally crafted press statement. “I understand that you may have questions but, unfortunately, the only method of communication will be via the press release. It speaks for itself and, as I said, we are not going to make any comments beyond that,” he said.

Commenting on the issue, a senior banker, who requested anonymity, said: “Essentially, what they are arguing is that the People’s National Party does not have a cause of action against them in terms of a suit because there is no evidence that they breached confidentiality.”

However, in the statement, the bank admitted it had “uncovered evidence that an officer of the bank procured confidential information on a customer account at another bank.”

The action by the employee, though highly inappropriate but apparently not illegal, breached the bank’s internal policies and procedures as well as its Employee Code of Conduct and Employment Agreement.

“All they are saying is what the person has done is highly inappropriate, but not illegal. And the fact that they said “into the public domain” is very crucial because it suggests it was not exposed to the mass media by the bank.”

Disciplinary action taken

The bank said disciplinary action was taken against the employee but, up to yesterday, it remained unclear if the employee still worked with FirstCaribbean.

Last October, Opposition Leader Bruce Golding revealed that the Dutch multinational company, Trafigura Beheer, which lifts Nigerian crude oil on behalf of Jamaica, had donated $31 million to the governing People’s National Party.

Trafigura, which is prevented by Dutch and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development laws from contributing to political parties, said it was a commercial transaction, but the donation drew a barrage of criticism locally, specifically as it pertained to the propriety of donations to the PNP by a foreign company with which the Government does business.

At the time, some analysts argued the incident would erode confidence in the banking sector and trigger a flight of capital from the bank and the country, a claim which the Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Derick Latibeaudiere, dismissed.