It is the first breakthrough in the long-running legal campaign to get traders’ money back. In total, 3,000 mobile phone traders have had funds frozen in the First Curacao
International Bank (FCIB) since August 2006, when the FCIB was placed into administration by the Central Bank of the Dutch Antilles on suspicion of handling fraudulent VAT funds. It is thought trader accounts range from £10,000 to £10 million.
Five traders last week had 75 per cent of their funds released, with the largest single repayment at £250,000. Dass Solicitors, which is handling the most recent spate of appeals against the Central Bank in the Caribbean, estimated the total money repaid to traders by the FCIB in the past fortnight at £1 million.
The balance of traders’ funds will be released in full on the final liquidation of the FCIB.
Dass Solicitors secured a single £1 million repayment in January because the trader concerned was not dealing in mobile phones and was therefore not classed as “high risk”.
Otherwise, this latest release of funds follows a long series of unsuccessful appeals against the Central Bank by several law firms.
Cassandra Moore, a solicitor at Dass Solicitors, said: “Hopefully this is going to be a turnaround. Each case is being dealt with separately, but we are as confident as we can be that if traders’ paperwork is in order, their appeal will be successful.”
She added: “A pattern has emerged. The Central Bank is challenging the appeals in all instances. It will ask questions about traders’ paperwork and documents. It is important that traders comply with all the accounting requirements, so they can respond to the questions raised head-on.”