ECCB commissions independent audit of Republic Bank transaction issue

ECCB commissions independent audit of Republic Bank transaction issue

Following numerous complaints from frustrated banking customers across the eastern Caribbean, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has commissioned an independent audit into the Republic Bank (EC) Limited delayed transaction processing issue.  

Based on these findings, the ECCB will determine if any additional actions are necessary. 

On April 29, 2024, the ECCB says it was made aware that Republic Bank (EC) Limited (Republic Bank) debited customers’ accounts as a result of delayed e-commerce and point-of-sale transactions.  

The ECCB was informed that these transactions date as far back as 2022 when the system was converted following Republic Bank’s acquisition of the operations of Scotiabank. 

It was advised that 12,112 Republic Bank customers across five countries in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU); Anguilla, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, were adversely impacted by this untimely situation.   

The ECCB describes the situation as downright unsatisfactory as without a doubt, it has caused hardship and anxiety for many customers. 

It says as a licensed financial institution, Republic Bank has an obligation to promptly debit the accounts of its customers for point of sale and e-commerce transactions.   

On this occasion, the ECCB notes Republic Bank failed to meet its own standards, the ECCB Code of Conduct and customer expectations. 

Explaning its own role in the matter, the ECCB says it is required to pursue the public interest within the confines of the Banking Act, 2015, noting it does not have the powers under the Banking Act to require Republic Bank to reverse these late debits except where they are inaccurate or fraudulent.   

The current Banking Act provides the ECCB with very limited powers for market conduct (financial consumer protection).  

The ECCB says it recognises the lack of consumer protection powers in the current Banking law. Consequently, the ECCB, in 2023, sought and secured the approval of the Monetary Council to change the law to provide such powers and to establish an Office of Financial Conduct and Inclusion. It says work to effect this decision has commenced.  

Pursuant to Section 60(7) of the Banking Act, 2015 the ECCB has advised Republic Bank of its decision to commission an independent audit of this situation.  

Based on these findings, the ECCB will determine if any additional actions are necessary. 

In April, Republic Bank stated that as a result of a technical issue stemming from its conversion exercise, some of its customers’ accounts were not debited in a timely manner for point of sale and E-commerce transactions.  

It assured customers that the technical issue has since been resolved.    

According to the ECCB, Republic Bank has since offered customers the following: 

  • Payment plans where needed and requested;  

  • The reversal of any overdraft fees directly resulting from the delayed debits for the e-commerce and point-of-sale transactions posted;  

  • No fees will be charged for standing orders to facilitate payments;  

  • No commitment fees, legal fees or interest will be charged for customers who require credit facilities for payment of the delayed debit sums to their accounts; and  

  • Customers who require bank statements to verify the accuracy of the amounts debited will be furnished with such statements, without charge. 

  • PublishedMay 17, 2024

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