28 02 2014
Jolly Harbour, Antigua
Until now we have used the system of ATMs around the world to obtain local currency from our Canadian based bank accounts. No need to bring large amounts of cash when we traveled; we just hit the local ATM and withdrew funds as we needed. The exchange rate was pretty decent too, much better than the VISA card fees.
Yesterday we had $2,000 EC stolen from us by First Caribbean bank.
We used the First Caribbean Bank ATM at the Epicurean Market in Jolly Harbour to obtain cash to settle accounts we had with local tradesmen. The ATM processed a $2,000 charge against our bank account but it did not give us the cash. The machine kept it.
We contacted the bank immediately and were informed by them that they would do nothing about it but maybe my bank in Canada would do something. According to the Antiguan bank representative "it is illegal for us to pay you the money we have kept from you. Even if we went to the machine and found your claim was correct we could and would do nothing."
In Canada the law says stealing my money is a crime. In Antigua the law says that a bank that steals a foreigner's money is forbidden to return it.
We are working with our bank in Canada to try to obtain some kind of relief but this is a months long process and success is not guaranteed. In Antigua the banks are the biggest crooks and they always get away with it.