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1 Shooter At Attempted $1 Million Bank Heist That Left Ranger American Guard Shot In Leg Pleads Guilty

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — One of the two shooters in the attempted holdup of security guards trying to pick up nearly one million dollars in cash at a bank in St. Thomas has pled guilty to assault-attempted robbery charges, authorities said.

Melik Petersen, 28, of Anna’s Retreat, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault with the intent to commit robbery, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

According to court documents filed in the case, on the morning of September 11, 2019, Ranger American armored services guards were attempting to pick up $951,000 from a Scotia Bank branch in the
Altona area in St. Thomas.

Petersen and an accomplice, each armed and masked, attempted to rob the Ranger American guards and a gunfight ensued, during which one of the guards suffered a bullet wound in his leg.

The two assailants and the getaway driver then fled the scene without the money.

Petersen faces up to 15 years in prison and will be sentenced at a later date.

He was originally charged with bank robbery, use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, and interference with commerce through threats or violence

This case was investigated by the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD).

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Adam Sleeper and Nathan Brooks.

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OFG Bancorp To Buy Scotiabank’s Operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

TORONTO — The Bank of Nova Scotia is unloading its operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico at a loss as the bank continues to shrink its sprawling global footprint.

OFG Bancorp says it is acquiring the Toronto-based bank’s Puerto Rico operation for $550 million in cash, and Scotiabank’s U.S. Virgin Islands branch operation for a $10 million deposit premium.

Scotiabank says that as a result of the transaction, as per accounting standards, the lender will record a loss of approximately $400 million after-tax in its financial third quarter of 2019.

Under the deal, which is subject to approval, Scotiabank’s operations in each market will be merged into the Puerto-Rico based bank and its related businesses.

Scotiabank has announced its exit or its intention to exit 19 countries in the past four years, including the divestment of its banking operations in nine Caribbean countries, as part of its strategy to focus on its core footprint.

The lender said with this transaction the repositioning of its international footprint will be “substantially complete.”

Scotiabank’s group head of international banking and digital transformation Ignacio Deschamps said it was pleased to reach an agreement with Oriental Bank, a prominent lender with a “strong reputation.”

We are confident that Oriental Bank, with the support of a talented team, will be well positioned to continue to grow the businesses and provide continuity to customers and employees in Puerto Rico and the USVI,” Deschamps said in a prepared statement.

Scotiabank is Canada’s third-largest lender.

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Bank Of Nova Scotia’s Sell-Off Of $123 Million In Caribbean Assets Faces Increased Scrutiny

TORONTO — Bank of Nova Scotia’s plan to sell some of its Caribbean assets is facing scrutiny from a regional watchdog that has flagged what it says are the deal’s “anti-competitive effects.”

Scotiabank announced late last November that it had struck a deal to sell banking operations in nine “non-core” Caribbean markets to Trinidad and Tobago-based Republic Financial Holdings Ltd.

The Canadian lender also said that it was selling insurance subsidiaries in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to Barbados-headquartered Sagicor Financial Corporation Ltd.

In early December, the competition commission of the Caribbean Community (or CARICOM) said it had “taken note” of Scotiabank’s announcement and “further noted the concerns of bank customers and governments across the region regarding the proposed acquisition of Scotiabank by Republic Financial.”

More recently, the Suriname-based commission said in an update that it had completed a preliminary review.

“Such assessment indicates that the proposed transaction or parts thereof could possibly have anticompetitive effects in at least three Member States in the Community,” a statement dated March 27 said. It did not say which of the 15 full members of the CARICOM bloc could be affected, or give further details about any alleged “effects.”

However, the CARICOM Competition Commission also said it would reach out to national and sector regulators in the affected areas, “for the conduct of preliminary examinations of proposed transaction” between the businesses.

“In furtherance of its commitment to fair and transparent processes for both the business community and consumers, the Commission will continue to monitor this activity in the Community and will inform as appropriate on further progress of this matter in affected Member States,” the statement added.

Scotiabank’s Caribbean banking asset sale — involving Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines — forms part of a broader campaign by the bank to focus its energies on its core markets.

In February, for instance, the lender announced it would sell banking and insurance businesses in El Salvador, a move it said was “driven by the bank’s strategy to focus on key markets which can generate greater scale for Scotiabank.”

The bank’s plans have been widely reported on in the Caribbean.

CARICOM’s competition commission, which was created by treaty to encourage economic development among participating nations, says on its website that it has certain powers, including the ability to impose fines and to “direct the enterprise to cease and desist from anti-competitive business conduct.”

In response to questions from the Financial Post, Scotiabank said it “acknowledges the CARICOM Competition Commission’s contribution to the regulatory approval process, and continues working closely with Republic and all applicable regulatory authorities to provide all needed information related to this transaction.”

The bank said previously that the transactions announced in November would not be “financially material,” but that they would increase a measure of capital strength by around 10 basis points upon closing.

Republic Financial previously said in a release that the purchase price on the Caribbean bank assets was about $123 million.

The purchase price on Scotiabank’s insurance operations in Jamaica and Trinidad is around $240 million, according to a November investor presentation. It was also subject to the closing of an acquisition of Sagicor by Toronto-based special purpose acquisition company Alignvest Acquisition II Corp.

“Until such approvals are obtained and conditions are met, and the transactions close, all Scotiabank operations in these countries will continue as usual,” the bank said in November.

Alignvest announced on March 1 (before the Caribbean competition commission weighed in) that it and Sagicor were postponing shareholder meetings to allow both companies more time to market the deal, as well as to “afford time for investors and shareholders to understand the publicly available information.”

Scotiabank is set to hold its annual meeting of shareholders on Tuesday in Toronto.

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Scotiabank To Exit Nine ‘Smaller’ Caribbean Countries In Major Shake-Up

TORONTO — Bank of Nova Scotia said today that it has struck a deal to sell banking businesses in nine of the smaller countries in the Caribbean as the lender continues to narrow down the number of international markets in which it operates.

Affected countries are: Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, Sint Maarten, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The move comes as Scotiabank, which has said larger markets in Latin America are still very much part of its plans, reported that profit from its international banking unit grew at a greater rate than that of its Canadian business over the past year.

“Exiting these non-core operations is consistent with a strategy that began five years ago to sharpen our focus, increase scale in core geographies and businesses, improve earnings quality and reduce risk to the bank,” said Scotiabank president and CEO Brian Porter during a conference call this morning, adding that the bank has now either exited or announced its intentions to exit more than 20 countries or businesses over that same period.

Scotiabank plans to sell the Caribbean businesses to Trinidad and Tobago-based Republic Financial Holdings Ltd., subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions. Republic Financial said in a release that the purchase price is $123 million.

Additionally, Scotiabank announced today that its subsidiaries in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago would be selling their insurance operations to Barbados-based Sagicor Financial Corporation Ltd., which would also underwrite insurance products for Scotia’s banking subsidiaries through a 20-year distribution agreement.

That deal would be subject to approvals and conditions as well, but it is also contingent on Sagicor being acquired by a Toronto-based special purpose acquisition corporation.

Scotiabank said these transactions would not be material, but that they would increase its common equity tier one capital ratio, a measure of financial strength, by around 10 basis points when they close.

“Due to increasing regulatory complexity and the need for continued investment in technology to support our regulatory requirements, we made the decision to focus the bank’s efforts on those markets with significant scale in which we can make the greatest difference for our customers,” said Ignacio Deschamps, the head of international banking at Scotiabank, in a release.

Scotiabank has been on a bit of an acquisition binge over the past year when it comes to wealth management and Latin America, where it is forecasting that some economies will grow faster than the one in Canada. Its deals include the purchase of a majority stake in a bank in Chile from Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A., turning it into one of the biggest private lenders in that country.

The lender also announced in August that it had reached an agreement to buy a bank in the Dominican Republic, with Porter saying Tuesday that “we expect to remain in our core markets across the Caribbean region.”

National Bank Financial analyst Gabriel Dechaine said in a note that Scotiabank’s outlook emphasized the integration of its purchases, a message he said was “critically important, as executing on $7 billion worth of acquisitions (i.e., deriving synergies) is necessary to drive (return on invested capital) from the mid-single digits to the double-digits over the next few years.”

As well, Scotiabank reported results on Tuesday for the end of its fiscal 2018, which wrapped up Oct. 31. Earnings for the bank were $9.1 billion for the year when adjusted for its acquisition-related costs, up 10 per cent from the year prior.

Of that, $4.4 billion came from Scotiabank’s Canadian banking business, an 8-per-cent increase over last year, while another $3.1 billion came from its international banking unit, which was up 17 per cent year-over-year. With many saying sending money abroad is becoming easier with the use of international bank wires , is it any surprise we are seeing a financial input from international banks?

In a release, Porter said the international banking results were “driven by our operations in the countries that make up the Pacific Alliance — Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia — which experienced double-digit loan and deposit growth, partly reflecting recent acquisitions, positive operating leverage and stable credit quality.”

The fourth-quarter results for the bank came in slightly under analyst expectations, with the lender reporting adjusted earnings per share of $1.77 for the three months ended Oct. 31, which was still up from $1.65 the previous year.

“By and large, the underlying businesses performed well this quarter versus street expectations,” Eight Capital analyst Steve Theriault wrote, adding in a later note that “(t)he divestitures in the Caribbean are not likely the end of the road.”

Canada’s third-biggest lender reported adjusted earnings per share of C$1.77 in the quarter ended Oct. 31, up 8 percent but short of the average analyst forecast of C$1.79 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Analysts blamed the miss on costs related to recent acquisitions.

Speaking to analysts on a conference call, Porter said he expected the bank to benefit from improved margins next year due to rising interest rates and a strong economic backdrop in its key markets.

“We are optimistic that we will continue to perform strongly and, again, exceed our medium-term objectives,” he said.

Shares in Scotiabank were up 0.3 percent in mid-morning trading, after initially dropping 0.5 percent.

The bank has targeted annual earnings growth of 7 percent or more in Canada next year and 9 percent from its international operations, stripping out currency movements.

Excluding one-off costs, net income rose by 13 percent to C$2.35 billion ($1.77 billion) in the latest quarter, compared with the average estimate by analysts of C$2.24 billion, according to IBES data.

For the full year, Scotiabank reported a 7 percent increase in earnings at its Canadian business to C$4.4 billion, helped by improved margins as it benefited from five Bank of Canada interest rate hikes since last summer and growth in customer deposits.

However, Canadian banking head James O’Sullivan told analysts the market for deposits was “quite competitive.”

Competition for deposits among Canadian banks was heating up for the first time since the financial crisis and could crimp margin growth, analysts said.

The bank has been selling non-core businesses and focusing its international operations on the Pacific Alliance trading bloc of Peru, Mexico, Chile and Columbia, which now accounts for around a quarter of its revenue.

The transactions are not material to Scotiabank, it said, but will result in its core tier 1 capital ratio, a key measure of its financial strength, increasing by 10 basis points.

The bank’s decisions in were guided, in part, by size. Jamaica, for example, has a population of roughly 2.8 million people while the Dominican Republic — where Scotiabank expects to be the number three bank — has roughly 11 million, Porter said.

“When you look at what we’ve retained in the Caribbean, that’s 90 per cent of the population,” Porter said. “This strikes at the core of our strategy to bulk up and get scale in markets and geographies and businesses that we deem important, where we can turn the dial for our customers and shareholders.”

Scotiabank To Exit Nine 'Smaller' Caribbean Countries In Major Shake-Up