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PwC search for $190m continues


Shawn Cumberbatch

PwC search for $190m continues

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Eight years after the High Court sanctioned its recovery effort, a Barbados accounting firm is still hunting about $190.4 million in “missing funds” owned by an international bank that operated here.

And PricewaterHouse Coopers (PwC) is also pushing back against suggestions originating in Guatemala that it has “actively delayed” aspects of the process “for its own financial benefit”.

It was in 2006 that PwC was appointed custodian of Bancafe International Bank Ltd. after the financial institution was deemed insolvent and the Central Bank intervened and closed its operations.

Information seen by BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY showed that while PwC’s mandate was to recover more than $300 million in “missing funds”, the amount in hand so far was $109.6 million.

Additionally, a recent update on the issue showed that the custodian had “admitted” 2 781 claims worth $304.5 million, and of this amount had paid $70.6 million to claimants.

“The custodian has rejected 89 claims with book values of [$8.8 million].

“Notwithstanding the custodian’s efforts and the volume of public news items covering the matter, 529 potential claims remained unfiled following the completion of the claims bar process,” the latest report provided to Bancafe claimants said.

“Prior to the claims bar process the custodian had calculated and reserved distributions totalling [$19 million] relating to these potential claims payable up to and including the fourth sividend. This reserve was released back into the estate for future costs and distributions, including the fifth and future distributions.

“To date, in average, depositors that were defrauded have received near to 50 per cent of their funds, and close to 25 per cent of them have received around 75 per cent of the amounts deposited by October 2006.”

Reacting to accusations that it was more focused on its own financial benefit while pursuing a criminal aspect of the case in Guatemala, PwC said the suggestion was “entirely false” and was intended to be diversionary. The company said its oppponents in Guatemala “have filed numerous applications that have stalled the process at different times”, including “three recusals and more than ten challenges of decisions made by the Tenth Criminal Court” there.

“The custodian is motivated to proceed as quickly as possible toward a successful judgment in the criminal case in order to maximise recovery for creditors. . . The judicial and administrative delays have been outside of the custodian’s control,” the report added.

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