Aug. 12, 2005 Merchants Commercial Bank made its case for approval before the V.I. Banking Board at its Thursday meeting. But board members wanted to see some changes to the proposed bank's business plan.
"There is no local community bank in the St. Thomas/St. John area, and a majority of resources are focused on the consumer client," said James Crites, the proposed president and a member of the bank's board of directors. Other board members are James Armour, Steve Simon, Alda Monsanto and Michael Burgamy. Founders Richard Spenceley, Roger Harland, and Eric Tillett were also present at the meeting. Tom Bolt serves as its legal counsel.
According to a news release from Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, the bank proposes to operate by using a courier service to pick up deposits from its business clients.
Crites said the bank would provide service warranted by the business community and would allow for growth in that sector.
He said that since the company began, potential customers have requested up to $40 million in loans.
Banking board members had some concerns about the lack of branches and finite number of customers.
Richards said it was important for the entire community to benefit from a new bank.
"This does not do much for the community," board member Winston Bennett said. He viewed it as selective banking for a particular class of society, he said.
Crites responded that the bank would provide a full range of services focusing on commercial clients.
He said the bank plans to have its headquarters on St. Thomas. Crites said there are no current plans to provide service for St. Croix businesses, but Burgamy said the company does hope to branch out to St. Croix.
Richards suggested that the board of Merchants Community Bank submit a revised business plan to address the concerns raised by the Banking Board.
The board also discussed the application of the V.I. Loan Store LLC, a small loan company that wants to set up shop on St. Thomas.
Sole owner John Campbell told Banking Board members that his company seeks to allow access to credit for people who need it.
"We want to provide small loans to members of the society that do not meet the strict criteria of the other financial institutions," Campbell said. His personal experience with local banks convinced him there is a market for his business, he added.
In response to several questions from board members, Campbell said he understood the risk in undertaking such an endeavor and stressed that he wanted to provide a warm, friendly experience to the individual consumer seeking small personal loans.
The board also discussed the passage of the Financial Services Act and the formal withdrawal of Allquest Bank's application.
In addition to Richards and Bennett, other members of the Banking Board at Thursday's meeting included Pablo O'Neill, Ernesto Gutierrez, Desmond Maynard, Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull and Deverita Sturdivant, the director of the Banking and Insurance Division.
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