Peter Schiff tries to save a bank in Puerto Rico under investigation

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — U.S. financial analyst Peter Schiff told The Associated Press on Friday that he will fight to be able to sell a bank he established in Puerto Rico even though authorities have suspended operations as part of an investigation.

Euro Pacific International Bank obtained a license in 2017 to operate in the United States and created some 15,000 accounts two years later, but its deposits fell to $150 million and it lost customers after the Joint Chief of Global Tax Enforcement – a multi-government group fighting tax crime and money laundering – said it acted two years ago « to put an end to the alleged facilitation of offshore tax evasion and money laundering ». ‘money by the bank’.

« We lost a lot because people were scared, » Schiff said.

He added that while he doesn’t like anti-money laundering rules, regulations or taxes, he follows them.

« The fact that I’m so willing to publicly criticize the rules, you better believe I’m doing everything I can not to break them, » he said.

The so-called J5 agency, whose members are the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, said on Thursday that an investigation into the bank was still ongoing, although she declined to provide details.

Schiff said it was a lie, that the bank was never investigated. He said Internal Revenue Service agents visited the bank in 2020 and told him they were investigating the bank’s customers.

“Our compliance is so rigorous and we close accounts so quickly,” he said, adding that he has never taken clients related to cryptocurrency, cannabis or other areas. « I did everything right and it cost me a fortune. »

A J5 spokeswoman did not return a message for comment on Friday.

Schiff also said he was upset that the bank’s operations were suspended by Puerto Rico’s Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions, which announced the decision Thursday and accused the bank of a lack of internal controls, a lack of compliance and a level of insolvency. Officials declined to provide details except to say it was separate from the J5 probe.

« It’s a huge shock that they did this, » Schiff said of the bank’s suspended operations.

Schiff said that while he didn’t realize the bank was undercapitalized until it was audited, he stressed that it was not a question of solvency but of regulatory minimum capital requirements. He said the bank has always had a positive net worth and even though there was a deficit based on deposits, the commissioner told him not to worry because a buyer had appeared.

Schiff said a Houston-based bank wanted to buy Euro Pacific International Bank and he submitted an application in January to start the process.

« They were going to rename it, rebrand it, so it didn’t have that stigma anymore, » he said.

Puerto Rico’s Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions did not return a message for comment.

Schiff said he invested $7 million of his own money to keep the bank afloat and all customers can get 100% of their money back.

« Right now, not a single customer is in danger, » he said.

Danica Coto, The Associated Press


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