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2005-05-14 20:02:58

Canadian Bank Integrity Questioned

Bahamian financial services professional claims RBC is unfair to Bahamians.

Leslie Moss, a black Bahamian financial services professional has issued a press release to members of the media, civil and human rights organizations, government agencies and individuals outside The Bahamas in an effort to raise awareness towards injustices that he feels have been perpetrated on him by a Canadian bank operating in the Bahamas.

Mr. Moss graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., in 1985. Two years later, he became the first Bahamian ever to be trained at the Escuela Diplomática (Diplomatic School) of Madrid, Spain. Later, he obtained a Masters of Business Administration and numerous professional and academic qualifications. He worked in the offshore financial services industry in The Bahamas and Canada for some twenty years in the fields of Trust Administration, Private Banking and Investment Advisory Services.

That said, one would assume that Mr. Moss now holds a position of distinction in the Bahamas Financial Services industry. This supposition could be no further from the truth. Instead, he is starting a third year of continuous unemployment in The Bahamas. Mr. Moss claims he has been forced to sell all that he had in order to meet his family's financial obligations. Despite his apparent qualifications and work experience, he feels has been disenfranchised and suffers discrimination in his own country. Over two years ago, he started legal action against his former employer, Royal Bank of Canada Financial Group, (RBC) Bahamas. The bank, Mr. Moss says, has used legal machinations, corporate veils and its overwhelming influence in the Bahamas to thwart his efforts to get justice. Since filing the lawsuit, Mr. Moss senses he has been blacklisted in the Bahamas financial services sector, which is run by a tight-knit group of foreigners. Over a dozen jobs he has applied for during this time have gone to expatriates ("expats") on work permits.

Others Voice Similar Concerns

This is the same complaint that German businessman Harald Fuhrmann has with the Bahamas legal community. After going public with accusations of massive corruption in the legal community, Mr. Fuhrmann finds himself essentially "locked out" of legal affairs in the Bahamas, thus thwarting any attempt to reverse the financial damages caused by the orginal injustice.

The Gallagher family, from England, whose son was killed while they were vacationing in the Bahamas claims they've been given the same treatment. Their attempt to obtain justice in the Bahamas, after their toddler was killed in act of gross negligence by a Bahamian watersports operator, has been "stonewalled" by the Bahamas government, they claim.

No Relief

In Mr. Moss' case, he has appealed to the Labour Tribunal, the Minister of Labour and Immigration, the Minister of Financial Services and Investments, the Attorney General, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and even the Prime Minister himself. Every one of them has either only paid lip service to his plight or outrightly ignored him.

The Labour Tribunal took instructions from the attorney for RBC and has refused to hear the case. The Minister of Labour and Immigration is at the beck and call of the foreign investor. The Minister of Financial Services has encouraged Mr. Moss to seek employment outside the Bahamas. The Attorney General simply "passed the buck", Mr. Moss says. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Fred Mitchell, has referred to Moss as a "political hot potato".  

"The Prime Minister, despite all the political bombast, does not even acknowledge my existence. The Constitution of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, our Labour Law and standards set by the Government all speak out against the discrimination I continue to face. Yet, no one has responded to my pleas," Mr. Moss contends.

Mr. Moss says the whole ordeal has caused great distress for him and his family, both mentally and physically. He sincerely feels that all of this is being perpetrated by huge international banks with the blessings of the Bahamian Government. He notes that, in Canada, RBC, "beats it chest over awards it wins for corporate governance, etc.".

Yet, he claims, outside Canada, the picture is different.

"RBC has been operating in The Bahamas longer than it has been in Toronto. Yet, the standards of diversity, fair play and justice it holds itself to and is held to in Canada are non-extant here. RBC discriminates against Bahamians based on nationality, race and gender. It has a very questionable relationship with the Government of The Bahamas, one plagued with conflicts of interest at many levels on both sides of the fence."

The concerned financial services professional has called on the Government of The Bahamas, the Official Opposition and labour organizations in the Bahamas to investigate what he perceives to be conflicts of interest and abuses of power. He is finding that, while all of these groups acknowledge the wrong behind closed doors, none has the conviction to challenge it.

International Intervention

In his bid to call attention to problems he sees in the Bahamas financial services industry, Mr. Moss has issued an international press release which reminds readers that Canada and Switzerland were key members of the OECD that joined in blacklisting the financial services sector of The Bahamas in 2000. Since then, he says scores of Bahamians have lost their jobs while work permits for expats increase. He notes that Canadian and Swiss banks control the banking industry in The Bahamas, particularly the offshore side. As a result of this, he claims they use strong-arm tactics to secure work permits at the expense of Bahamian workers. He feels that these banks also contribute to the corruption of high-ranking Bahamian officials, a point which has been made by various other watchdog groups as well.

"The OECD and authorities in its member countries need to go beyond tax and fiscal condemnation of The Bahamas. They need to seriously investigate how THEIR corporate and individual citizens are exploiting the laws and workers of The Bahamas and violating international agreements. The Bahamas is a Third World nation. As such, we are susceptible to this kind of exploitation and corruption. There is no difference between what the international banks do here and the sweatshops used by multinational corporations in the Third World," Mr. Moss says in his press release.

"I am hereby appealing to the media, civil and human rights organizations, government agencies and individual citizens in Canada, the United States, Switzerland and other countries of the OECD for assistance. RBC and the other banks here will only desist in the face of public scrutiny and exposure. Please lobby your elected officials and authorities to get an investigation started outside The Bahamas," he adds.

Mr. Moss says his international press release is not a hoax. He says he is "fully prepared to back up everything that is written herein with various forms of evidence."

He has hired an attorney in The Bahamas and is also looking for a lawyer in Canada to assist in bringing a lawsuit against RBC, in that jurisdiction, for negligent misrepresentation to go along with the civil suit pending in the Supreme Court of The Bahamas. He may also bring a class action suit against RBC in Canada.

Further, he says he is willing to cooperate, "quid pro quo, with provincial and federal authorities in Canada and the United States as they continue to look at the offshore activities of their corporate and individual citizens operating in The Bahamas."

Anyone wishing to communicate with Mr. Moss directly, may do so at telephone (242) 364-5873, e-mail or mailing address P.O. Box N-10237, Nassau, Bahamas.

You may also contact his attorney, Andrew Bowe, directly at (242) 325-8184, facsimile (242) 325-8217.

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