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Tuesday, September 27, 2022


Jeffrey Prosser's V.I. Community Bank signed a deal Wednesday to buy Chase Manhattan Bank's operations in the Virgin Islands, sources have confirmed.
Some bank employees were informed Wednesday afternoon of the purchase. According to an informed source, Prosser bought the bank's assets but not the Chase name.
A call to Prosser's Innovative Communications Corp. headquarters Wednesday morning was not returned.
Reports had been circulating in the banking and wider business community for the past several days that a deal was close to completion. Some have speculated that the Industrial Development Commission benefits granted to the Virgin Islands Community Bank on St. Croix during the Farrelly administration gave Prosser's bank an unfair advantage over others who may have been interested in buying Chase.
Prosser first approached Chase about acquiring its Virgin Islands operations two years ago, sources say.
Chase is the latest in a string of acquisitions by Prosser, who has become the single most powerful businessman in the territory. Along with the V.I. Community Bank, Prosser, through ICC, owns the V.I. Telephone Corp., Vitelcom and VitelCellular, and in the last 18 months has purchased the V.I. Daily News, St. Croix Cable TV, St. Thomas-St. John Cable TV and the Island Trader.
Prosser also has been expanding his ICC operations beyond the Virgin Islands. The Daily News reported Tuesday that ICC bought Martinique Cable TV this month and expects to close on Guadeloupe Cable TV by Aug. 1. ICC already owns cable television companies in the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten and France.
Prosser may have had the imminent Chase purchase in mind when he offered in March to give the V.I. government 1,000 acres of Carambola land and build several capital projects in exchange for 30-year tax breaks for all ICC companies except the Daily News.
A version of the Prosser deal was passed 8-7 by the V.I. Legislature with the support of six St. Croix senators, at-large Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd and St. Thomas Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole. The remaining six St. Thomas senators and Senate President Vargrave Richards of St. Croix voted against the proposal.
The deal was vetoed 10 days later by Gov. Charles Turnbull, who said he had decided that taking some of the largest corporations in the territory off the tax rolls was not in the government's best interests.
Turnbull also said, however, that the government was open to future deals proposed by ICC.
Charlotte Gilbert-Biro, a spokesperson for Chase Manhattan Bank's corporate offices in New York City, said Wednesday, "We have no comment at this time."

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