The Virgin Islands Banking Board approved a permit for Oriental Bank during Wednesday’s meeting marking the first step of a long process for the acquisition of the island’s Bank of Nova Scotia.
Before Oriental Bank can proceed with operations, they need to obtain a license and approval from the Banking Board, approval from federal regulators at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and approval from the Puerto Rico Commissioner of Banking, which a press release sent from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor details.
Chairman of the Virgin Islands Banking Board Lt. Gov. Roach said the permit was granted under three conditions: the preservation of severance benefits of existing bank employees up to one year into its operations, maintaining a satisfactory rating and adhering to standards set by the Community Reinvestment Act, and including St. John in consideration should Oriental Bank grow and expand.
“We want to be assured that this will be a good thing for the territory. That it will expand opportunities for the residents of the Virgin Islands, that it will support local businesses, small businesses … and will provide freer access to credit for the people of the territory. We want to be assured that the people of the territory are going to be treated fairly,” in terms of employment, Roach said.
Oriental Bank’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ganesh Kumar said the bank intends to retain all employees currently employed by the Bank of Nova Scotia.
Attorney Carol Rich, Oriental Bank’s legal counsel here on the island, said the bank’s “goal is they want every single employee to stay. They want every single employee to be given comparable and certainly not less favorable salary-based pay, everything that they had before. They want it to be seamless so the customers can be served in a seamless fashion and we want the customers to be served by the same people they have come to know over the years within Scotia.” Rich added that if anything it was Oriental Bank’s intention to grow and expand providing avenues for development as opposed to shrinking.
Kumar told the Banking Board how Oriental Bank planned on converting the current Bank of Nova Scotia customers through a process he called a conversion procedure in which customers will be notified of service offerings and disclosures.
“Every acquisition, on the day of closing, has a negotiated period of transition with the seller. That would mean their application systems would continue for a period of transition and during that time we would slowly start uploading the clients into our platform,” Kumar said.
Once the period of transition was completed Kumar said Oriental Bank will offer a variety of services to its customers.
Some of the retail and commercial service offerings Kumar presented during his presentation included: residential mortgages, auto and personal loans, IRA and trust accounts, lines of credit, retirement plans, and insurance.
Rich said banking should not be a hassle for people to do and that Oriental Bank aimed to cater to both those who demand quick access to banking via mobile devices, and those who expect interactions with their bankers.
“The board was pleased with Oriental Bank’s presentation and its overall positive view of the economic impact its presence will have in the territory,” Roach said.