The Bank is not your Friend.
Choice Bank Belize was the worst banking experience of my entire lifetime; by a million miles. Here’s my story of untold grief and the worst customer service known to mankind (in my humble opinion). By the way, when you give your money away to a bank, you may not realize it, but it really is no longer your money. It is quite the bank’s money. As you will see, I had to beg and eventually threaten to get it back.
Back in January/February of 2017, I opened an international business corporation for the purpose of obtaining a large well known brokerage account to trade forex. The formation company recommended Choice Bank saying they were the best in Belize. So I opened an account. It took a lot of paperwork for the bank to approve me as a customer and allow me to open an account with them. This due diligence took about a month. No idea why so long, but I could live with that.
Once approved, I wired my funds in, testing first with just a few thousand and then a much larger amount once I saw that the wire was received. I wired these funds to my corporate brokerage account and began trading.
Many months later I ordered a wire out of my broker to Belize and to myself in the USA. I have to say first off, that it was pretty expensive going from Belize to America; many hundreds of dollars per trip. But I could have lived with this. The two weeks wait time was long. I sure did not like it taking that long but again, I could have lived with this.
The nightmare begins…..
Each time I tried to do a wire, Ms. Elsa Williams of Choice bank (the only person I ever dealt with) would hold up “hurdles” for me to jump through. The amount of emails sent was staggering.
“Oh, we cannot wire your funds. We are updating our client info base and we need a PEP form.” Then I would provide it.
“Oh, we cannot wire your funds. We need a certificate of incumbency.” The company was not even a year old so this is not so. I had to send a darn good many emails explaining why that was not needed.
“Oh, we cannot wire your funds. We need a certificate of good standing.” Again, the company was not a year old so… not needed; another dozen emails shot back and forth over a few weeks.
Keep in mind that this lady was like a robot; no personality and many, many times, she did not even bother to respond to my emails. I would sometimes have to write 2-3 times to get a response. The responses were very cold… very short!
“Oh, we need this form… that form…” This went on and on. I provided the requests.
One time I tried to do a wire into my Choice account and there was no warning, nothing… I had to find out on my own that it had been rejected! Magically, for some totally unknown reason that was never explained to me at all, I “fell out of favor” and my account was no longer “verified” by Choice. No warning. My wire went missing for weeks. When it was finally returned to my broker, hundreds of dollars were missing due to wire fees. Wire fees in each direction; from Australia to Belize and wire fees going back. It cost me a lot of money to have a wire go missing for 3 full weeks in cyberspace, not to mention the care and concern that my money was gone.
Upon contacting Choice… or actually Elsa, my friendly customer service representative, I was told I had to provide financials for the company. This took quite some doing. They wanted to see 5 years of detailed projected cash flow statements. Upon sending this to Ms. Williams, it was not good enough and the paperwork needed to be signed and dated and sent in another format. Done…
It sat on someone’s desk. I mean forever. Every week I would send an email a little something like this:
“Hi Elsa. It’s been 2 (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8) weeks now since I sent in the cash flow projections that you requested. Do you have an update for me? Just writing in to see if that has been reviewed and approved so I can once again execute some wire transfers.”
Of course, every time I got a response from her (which was not often), it was robotic and emotionless; not one ounce of care or concern for me or the fact that I could not obtain money from my accounts for months.
I finally lost my patience and I must say this was around 50 or 60 emails later… I think I was very patient.
So I got a little more demanding in my emails.
“Elsa, it’s been 8 weeks now… is there some reason Choice Bank is holding my funds hostage and not allowing me to do a withdrawal? It is very difficult to do business this way. I need to access my funds. Responses were pathetic; non informative and basically it seemed to me that she did not care at all that I was having trouble with my “international payments partner” (their words on their website).
I finally demanded to have my money withdrawn, account closed. I no longer wished to be re-“verified” and again the responses were as dry as a bone.
“When your paperwork is approved we will close your account.”
In my last email to Ms. Williams I explained that she probably had no idea, and could not know unless I told her, that she was causing me and my family difficulties. I had to pull funds from elsewhere. I even got so discouraged with my “international payments partner” that I finally decided to just close down my corporation completely and dissolve the company… and begged my broker to send my funds back in my personal name to the USA. They said they would allow this just this once. That was not the proper channel but because I was the sole director of the company they would do me the favor and allow me to escape. I had no choice. After dealing with Choice Bank for 9 long months and the most horrible customer service I have ever experienced from any bank anywhere (and I have had dozens of bank accounts from all over the world in my 50 years of life on Earth), I no longer trusted them. I mean not one tiny bit. By mid-January I had to threaten them with calling in a lawyer and/or contacting bank regulators… and ten minutes after I sent that email they wrote back saying that the account was closed.
Just like that. So I received an email from Ms. Williams; no apology at all, no explanation whatsoever of why they treated me like absolute dirt and literally jerked me around for months on end. Nothing. Just as robotic as can be.
“Your account was closed.”
That’s it. Nothing else. So I wrote again… “Where is my money? Have you wired it or have you sent me a check?”
Nothing. No response.
I waited a bunch of days to write back again. All I got was a form with huge sums of money missing, showing that they basically were just milking me while I close my account. 11 days went by and the funds had not yet been received by my bank.
In a day and age when 1,300+ crypto currencies trade around the world in minutes for pennies on the dollar, I had to wait over 2 weeks and pay hundreds of dollars for a wire transfer!
In a day and age when E-payments, Money-Bookers, Skrill and so many other dozens of payment solution systems exist out there that just take a few hours or just one day…. I had to wait weeks and still did not have my funds.
I can honestly say that I would not wish Choice Bank upon my worst enemies in this world. Deplorable is the only word that I can think of that describes the care and attention that I received.
Go to the home page at http://www.choicebankltd.com/ and you will see that half way down the page they boast of how fast and awesome and trusted they are. I can personally attest that in my experience none of this is true!
Fast and easy setup? No. It’s not fast at all. It took over a month to be approved. Easy? I had to fill out more forms and paperwork than when applying for a mortgage in America.
“We want you to be as comfortable using us as you are using your bank at home…” Blah, blah, blah. Not even close. Not by one million miles.
“Personal and trustworthy service. Individual service. Rapid response.” Not even close. It was as cold as ice. It took many days to get an answer. Often I would ask more than one question and I would get one answer only. Everything else was ignored.
This is a very true and un-embellished. I’m not lying and I am not exaggerating one tiny bit. It’s an account of my personal experience. I would have to consider Choice Bank in Belize to be the worst bank I have ever dealt with in my life and I feel sick, very tired and worn out by dealing with them. I would strongly encourage anyone to just stay away.
This article was originally written in January 2018.
On 1/9/2018, the funds finally arrived.
I have found the banks in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand to be excellent. I mean that I love them; crazy fast, good and transparent.
Belize? Totally backwards. They acted like my money was their money and I had to beg for it. Sad. I could have referred about 25+ Forex traders I know unto them but I find they are completely unworthy. Stay away.