SIBLL Viable And In Compliance With CBL Regulations; Independent Investigation Reveals

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An in-depth independent investigation conducted by the Hot Pepper has revealed that Sapelle International Bank Liberia Limited (SIBLL) is fully capitalized, in consonance with the CBL’s regulations and viable to maintain its customers and the public trust.

   A few days ago, some media houses claimed in their reportage that the bank has gone bankrupt and has failed to meet the satisfaction of its customers, suggesting non-compliance with the Central Bank of Liberia’s regulations for all banking institutions in the country.

   Following this report, the Hot Pepper launched an independent investigation into the allegation to establish whether or not the bank is truly liquidated, and customers’ demands are not being met, in addition to being non-compliant with the CBL.

   The investigation established that there is no record or incident of customers walking to the SIBLL, formerly GN Bank Liberia Limited, and not paid on demand or customers having difficulty in making withdrawal, contrary to the first media report.

    According to some documents perused, SIBLL was given a license to operate a commercial bank in Liberia in 2016, and at the time of the acquisition of the license First International Bank Liberia Limited (FIBLL), now defunct, was in the process of bankruptcy.

  To prevent the damage to the entire banking industry from the collapse of FIBLL and its negative implication for all other banks, the Central Bank Liberia (CBL) entered into an arrangement with SIB Liberia Limited to take a significant portion of the assets and liabilities of the defunct banking institution.

   Accordingly, this arrangement was to protect the reliability of the Liberian banking sector, while the transaction between SIB and the CBL therefore maintained the nation’s confidence in the financial industry and prevented an outright collapse of the former bank, which would have caused significant damage to the country’s financial industry.

   At the same time, the documents quote that SIBLL, through that arrangement, inherited or took over a legacy deposit of US$23.2 million. This liability, if FIBLL had been allowed to be fully liquidated, would have been a debt to be paid by the Liberian government and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

   The Hot Pepper’s investigation has reliably gathered that SIBLL has paid, so far, US$14.9 million to the legacy depositors of FIBLL from 2016 up to the end of December 2023. By this effort, SIB saved key depositors such as NASSCORP, National Port Authority, National Disaster Management, Weasua Transport and a lot more companies and individuals from losing their deposits.

   The investigation also found that the recent intervention made by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), paying US$8.0 million to SIBLL, was done to reduce the burden on the bank for the payment of US$14.9 million, which was made to the legacy depositors of the defunct FIBLL by SIBLL.

   Authoritative sources within the confines of the SIBLL emphasized that the payment was not a stabilization fund, nor a payment made to prevent the bank from failing or going under. “The payment represents a reimbursement of portions of payment SIBLL made for and on behalf of the government and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to the legacy depositors of the defunct First international Bank Liberia Limited,” a highly placed source within the CBL said.

   “It is expected that SIB would continue to be in Liberia for a lifetime and would continue to introduce innovative products and services to serve the people of Liberia,” another source within the bank told this paper.

   The paper also gathered that SIBLL has recently upgraded its core banking application system with the aim of improving its digital and electronic banking offerings and making banking convenient to the Liberian people.

   Additionally, sources within the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) have expressed shock over the information contained in the publication that claimed that the SIBLL has not been in compliance with the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

   “What is baffling some of us is the alarm that the bank has not been in compliance with the CBL’s regulations. That is untrue. We are under obligation to protect the fiscal space of this country and the citizens; as such, we cannot do a cover-up for whatever commercial bank, including the SIBLL, but the fact remains that the SIBLL is in full compliance with our regulations and policies,” the CBL sources told this paper.

   At the same time, many of the customers who spoke to the Hot Pepper during the investigation expressed disappointment in those making false and negative statements against the bank. “This negative publication about the SIBLL is propaganda, and the reason behind their action remains unknown. Some of us who have been doing business with this bank have never, and are not experiencing anything of such mentioned in their publication,” a customer said.

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