Contributory factors to the crisis of the crash/meltdown of Jamaica financialsector in the 1990’s While it may be impossible to reach a consensus regarding the causes of the problems inthe financial sector, there is an ample menu of contributing factors about which most wouldagree. Briefly these factors are the following: • The attitudes of domestic entrepreneurs were in-appropriate for the financial sector. While most domestic entrepreneurs in the financial sector were dynamic risk takers who explored possibilities for business that were beyond the vision of most, they were too bullish in risking clients savings, too eager to demonstrate success by building large high-rise office buildings, and too prone to bend prudential norms and regulations. • The quality of indigenous management of the troubled institutions was deficient. Foreign owned and controlled institutions operating in the same environment using indigenous managers did not experience the same problems. Higher incidence of fraud and irregularities in indigenous institutions are indicative of weakness in the control environment. Better internal controls and prudential guidance by overseas head offices seem to have been a factor in the better performance of the management of foreign owned banks. • Poor portfolio performance -euphemistically referred to by managers as a "mismatch between assets and liabilities" in the case of insurance companies and a high ratio of non-performing loans in the indigenous banks, may have been due at least partly to inability/unwillingness of management to resist political and social pressures to lend, and partly to recklessness in investing in sectors where they had no special advantage or competence. • Product design, reflected in too many and too complex products mostly lacking in transparency was another failing of management. • A culture of non-repayment of debt was fostered by the absence of a system for collecting and sharing data on the credit history of borrowers. Lack of information on customers/borrowers made it difficult for managers of institutions to assess the risk associated with lending. The laws have traditionally been skewed toward preserving the secrecy of customers’ relations with each institution, with the result that institutions do not share information. FINSAC found that very frequently customers were simultaneously indebted to several institutions. Add to this the failure of institutions to insist on getting adequate documentation on collateral, and the result was that many customers got more credit than would be justified by their wealth and income situation. • The macroeconomic policy environment, particularly the high interest rates and high reserve requirements, has been cited by owners/managers as an important factor that undermined the viability of their institutions. Again, it must be observed that foreign-owned banks operating in the same macroeconomic environment fared much better, enjoying positive net income and return on assets of between 1.5% and 3% compared to the negative net income and return on assets of indigenous banks. While the macroeconomic
situation may have contributed to the rise in the ratio of non-performing loans in all banks, it does not explain the much larger rise in the ratio for indigenous banks.• The collapse of the real estate market has been cited as an important cause of insolvency. This is only partly true. There was evidence of over- building and the construction sector cooled off by 1990 (as evidenced by commercial bank loans and advances and by sectoral GDP growth) before the contractionary (tight money) stance beginning in 1992 to contain the high inflation after its peak of 80% in 1991. But it is true that with the contractionary policies in place market conditions ceased to validate overly optimistic re-valuation of real estate assets. In the case of banks, collateral in the form of real estate became inadequate to support the growing stock of loans when real estate prices slowed as inflation was brought under control.• Deficiency in the regulatory environment was a contributory factor to the debacle in the financial sector. Specifically, there was tardiness in updating prudential regulations and in putting adequate supervisory agencies in place. The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance was especially not adequately staffed and as a department within the Ministry of Finance did not appear to have the stature needed to deal at eye level with the moguls of the insurance industry. Bank inspection at the Bank of Jamaica fared better, but was still late in being upgraded to deal with the increasing complexity of the groups within which the banks and other deposit-taking institutions were located. For some time the government had been concerned with the need to upgrade the legal / regulatory framework of the sector, and had introduced major revisions of financial legislation in 1992. However, further revisions as well as the complementary institutional development could not be put in place quickly enough to avoid the deterioration that quickly developed after 1994.• Capital account liberalization has been blamed by some for financial sector problems. Liberalization was not followed by massive outflows of Jamaican savings into investments abroad. On the contrary, there seems to have been some increase in inflows, possibly in response to liberalization of outflows and possibly in response to high interest rates and a virtually stable nominal exchange rate. Some of the increase may have been the repatriation of earlier capital outflows provoked by controls. Short-term interest-sensitive inflows can be a source of instability, (as the Chilean experience showed) and their increase is not an undiluted advantage. However, the problems of indigenous financial institutions did not result from sudden inflows and outflow of foreign savings. Jamaica experienced large inflows (some capital but mostly transfers) especially during 1994, which may have made monetary management difficult. The Bank of Jamaica had to buy up foreign exchange in order to restrain the appreciation of the Jamaican dollar, which had the effect of injecting domestic currency into the system tending to compromise the effort to reduce aggregate demand and inflation. Whatever may have been the undesirable side effects of liberalization, it would be stretching credibility to suggest that it was a cause of the widespread insolvency of indigenous financial institutions.• Lack of timely information flow on financial institutions (including insurance companies and other non-banking entities) from a credible, objective, official source to the public made it difficult to assess the relative risk attached to dealing with one institution rather than another. This problem extended to the information provided on instruments such as certificates of deposit and promissory notes, which sometimes makes it impossible for the public to determine who is custodian of their funds, the manner in which the
• funds will be invested, and who is obligated to repay.• Lack of established arrangements for solvency support at the time of the crisis essentially meant that there was resort to ad hoc approaches leading to more uncertainty and panic than necessary. The JDIC had been under study but not yet established.
Even though it appears the big boys have won again, I still don’t think this saga is over yet. Myquestion is what these investment “club” will do now that the law has been laid down. I thinkthey should start their application for license to the adversary (FSC). It will be interesting to seeif they will be successful in becoming registered so they can operate with a license under theumbrella of regulated legitimacy. I am not sure but I think either OLINT or LEWFAM had somecambio license that was suspended by the bank of Jamaica. It will truly be awkward to turnaround and beg the people you were fighting in court to give you the tools to fish so you can eat.Cash plus and the others should make speedy their application to become regulated. I am notsure if legislation would need to be enacted for them to carry on what they were doing, but surelyFOREX trading which is the main function of OLINT and LEWFAM does not need new lawsbecause both banks and brokerage firms already trade FXTHE ROLE OF THE FSC IN THE CASH PLUS SAGAFSC issues Cease and Desist Order against World WisePosted on August 5, 2008 by investforlifeThere is news that a Cease and Desist order has been issued against World Wise Partners. Whileinformation is sketchy it is understood that sometime this morning the order was issued.Whencontacted the FSC would not say much save and except that a statement would be issued latertoday.World Wise had just re-opened after been closed for 2 months and had stated that accounts under$5000 would be closed and that no new deposits or members would be taken on at this time.FSC Issues Cease and Desist Order to World Wise Partners Ltd./Noel StrachanThe Financial Services Commission (“FSC”) issued a Cease and Desist Order on Tuesday,August 5, 2008 to World Wise Partners Limited/Noel Strachan (“World Wise Partners”)pursuant to section 68 (1B) of the Securities Act.The Cease and Desist Order issued by the FSC demands that World Wise Partners immediatelystop conducting securities business including soliciting and accepting monies from the public. Itshould be noted that this Cease and Desist Order does not prevent World Wise Partners frompaying outstanding amounts due to investors. Therefore no one can claim that the FSC’s Ceaseand Desist Order has stopped World Wise Partners from paying investors the amounts due tothem.The FSC’s decision to issue a Cease and Desist Order is based on the fact that WorldWise Partners has induced persons in Jamaica to enter into arrangements which are securities in
the form of investment contracts. This was being done even though World Wise Partners is not alicensed securities dealer and its investment contracts have not been registered with the FSC.World Wise Partners has therefore engaged in securities activities in breach of sections 7, 10 and26 of the Securities Act (“the Act”). Section 7 of the Act prohibits the carrying on of a securitiesbusiness without being licensed as a securities dealer by the FSC. Section 10 prohibits anindividual from carrying out the functions of a dealer’s representative without first beingregistered for that purpose by the FSC. Section 26 prohibits the issuance of securities withoutfirst applying to be registered by the FSC in respect of the securities.In accordance with the Securities Act, entities that conduct or that propose to conduct securitiesbusiness or offer investment advice to the public are required to be licensed, and issuers ofsecurities are obliged to apply to the FSC to have their securities registered by the FSC beforethey are issued.The FSC is once again advising investors to refrain from investing with or through persons whoare not licensed or registered under the Securities Act
OLINT WOES hit investors in Grenada(with letter!)Posted on July 23, 2008 by investforlifeSGL HOLDINGS INC. Investors in Grenada are feeling the pinch as result from the problemsaffecting OLINT TCI. In a report on a Grenadian website, SGL Holdings INC acknowledgesthat its having problems returning customers’ deposits. The Ministry of Finance in Grenada isaware of the problem and to had dialog with SGL HOLDINGS INC. today, July 23, 2008. Hereis a quote from the article.At a meeting held on Wednesday July 23 with the Ministry of Finance, the company advised thatthe present challenges being experienced emanate from difficulties facing its trader, Olint TCI,located in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Olint TCI has had its assets frozen pending aninvestigation into its operations and until such time as this matter is resolved the Company isunable to make any payments to its customers.This is the story of yet another feeder in trouble. SGL is just one of the manyfeeder/affiliate clubs with links to OLINT. The list includes Lewfam, UWIN, Wilshaw amongothers. Read (How OLINT survived?)The Ministry of Finance in Grenada made it clear that SGL Holdings does not fall under theBanking Act. In May 2007 SGL Holdings applied to the Grenada Authority for the Regulation ofFinancial Institutions (GARFIN) for a licence to conduct its operations.After some tussle with the regulators and SGL Holdings in Grenada, the regulator issued a Ceaseand Desist Order. It appears that they ceased taking new deposits while they sought to havethemselves regulated but now have hit repayment snags.SGL Holdings claims that efforts are being made to ascertain the status of the investigations inTurks and Caicos Islands and that they are committed to repaying
The Role Of FINSACMANDATE:FINSAC Limited was incorporated with a specific mandate from Government:To resolve the problems of solvency and liquidity being experienced by the financial sector.OBJECTIVES:In pursuance of this mandate, FINSAC developed eight broad objectives to guide its activities.These objectives are as follows: • to protect the investments of policyholders, depositors and pensioners; • to restore liquidity and solvency to distressed institutions (in pursuit of the first objective); • to strengthen the financial management capability of intervened institutions; • to improve the efficiency of the sector in mobilizing and allocating financial resources; • to create an attractive environment for investors to recapitalise financial institutions; • to minimize moral hazard and promote prudent behaviour; • to promote strong corporate governance, managerial accountability and shareholder oversight; • to strengthen the sector through the establishment of appropriate institutional frameworks and regulatory structures.In pursuit of these objectives, FINSAC was established with the following Terms of Reference,Financing and Exit Strategy (These are based on a Budget Presentation made by the Minister of Finance and Planning on March 27,1997):TERMS OF REFERENCE:
1. FINSAC serves as the vehicle through which realignment and restructuring of the financial sector will take place.2. FINSAC serves as the executive arm of the Ministry of Finance and Planning in which Government strategy will be planned and through which the interventions of various agencies (specifically the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) and the Superintendent of Insurance) will be co-ordinated.3. Through FINSAC, the Government will provide financial assistance to the sector and, therefore, FINSAC will have the accountability for the spending of such resources provided to it directly or guaranteed by the Government.4. Through FINSAC, the Government will provide guidance and technical assistance to the financial sector. It may mobilize and deploy external technical and managerial support for the restructuring of intervened institutions.5. FINSAC will sponsor and/or undertake diagnostic studies of the overall health of the financial sector with specific focus on the institutions which require assistance.6. FINSAC will assist institutions in developing workout plans, where necessary, to return them to viability. Such plans will form the basis for the conditions which FINSAC will attach to financial assistance. FINSAC will monitor the implementation of such plans on a continuing basis and will evaluate their effectiveness in achieving their specified objectives. It will inform and co-ordinate the inputs of FINSACs board members of intervened institutions on issues considered essential to the viability of the financial sector.7. Based on the experience gained in its work, FINSAC will advise the Government on the prudential regulation of the sector and on the renewal, suspension and revocation of operating charters of individual institutions within the sector.