… brings sector in disrepute, undermines public trust – Governor
(REPRINTED: Guyana Times) The Bank of Guyana (BoG) is extremely concerned over revelations this past weekend that confidential banking information had been leaked to the press and was widely published.
Bank of Guyana Governor, Dr Gobin Ganga, made this disclosure on Tuesday during an exclusive interview with Guyana Times.
Over the weekend sections of the media had published the bank account numbers of embattled Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Presidency, Omar Shariff.
Included in that publication of Shariff’s banking information, are the bank account numbers for 14 accounts, along with a summary of its balances and withdrawals. The published information also pointed to several asset holdings for Shariff, including shares in a number of local organisations, including shares owned in two local banks and Banks DIH Limited.
Speaking to Guyana Times, Dr Ganga said that while the Bankers Association is likely to make a formal pronouncement on the matter shortly, as Central Bank Governor he is “very worried” since the divulged information can only serve to bring the entire banking sector into disrepute.
Dr Ganga reiterated earlier concerns articulated by sections of the banking community with respect to the sharing of its information with State agencies such as the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
The matter was raised during recent consultations held on the draft State Asset Recovery Bill when representatives of the banking industry had questioned the security of the confidential information being passed onto agencies such as SOCU and State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU).
This past week, Shariff, in breaking his silence in relation to the allegations that he had somehow laundered, embezzled or stole public monies for personal gain, accused SOCU of leaking confidential information to the media.
He lamented that the information which had been passed on to SOCU was obtained through a judicial warrant.
According to the BoG Governor, the leakage of such confidential information can only serve to undermine the public trust in the local banking sector.
He said the sharing of such information will hurt Guyana’s credibility on the international scene since such developments point to its weakened integrity.
Dr Ganga pointed to the recent pull out from Guyana by correspondent Bank of America. He recalled that among the reasons that the institution pulled out of Guyana was as a result of its de-risking measures.
According to the Central Bank Governor, when it is that sensitive, banking information, which is supposed to be kept confidential, leaked into the public domain and more so published in widely circulated news outlets can only serve to hurt the integrity of the local system.
The international banking community is paying attention to what obtains locally, according to Dr Ganga, who stressed that the BoG is deeply concerned over the revelations.
He said that the BoG is currently monitoring the developments very closely and is in fact looking to see what recourse is available to it.
The matter of leaked confidential information has generated heated public debate in the past and again came to the fore with the publication of the scores of accounts owned by Shariff.
Shariff was recently sent on leave by Minister of State Joseph Harmon, pending an investigation by SOCU into his financial affairs.