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Premier defends against concerns raised about fintech future

Nothing to do with Bermuda: David Burt Premier holds a press conference after delivering the 2023 Budget at the Cabinet Building (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Amid continuing scrutiny over the government’s digital asset strategy, David Burt, the Premier and finance minister Monday took to the floor of Parliament to strike back at unyielding opposition questions in the wake of the latest downturn in fintech’s fortunes in the market.

His defence came before regional bank stocks rallied on Tuesday trading during a volatile market session, a clear reversal from Monday’s sell-off in the wake of the closure of Silicon Valley Bank.

Butterfield Bank, which had been affected by the turmoil in the market, bounced back, gaining $2.50 (8.93 per cent) and closing at $30.50.

But California state regulators had seized the SVB and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as receiver on Friday.

Local concern came when the banking scare included the forced stop in trading of shares in some regional banks, including Signature Bank, shut down by authorities.

Both Signature and SVB had exposure to fintech and crypto currency developers.

And Signature was the bank that four years ago was introduced by the Premier as the institution on which local fintech business could rely.

On the motion to adjourn in the Lower House Monday, the Premier brushed aside opposition criticisms of his administration, noting that Signature is not even a Bermuda bank.

He quoted a bank board member as saying the institution was still carrying on business.

He chastised the One Bermuda Alliance: “How does the opposition get upon gloating on a situation that may happen overseas which may impact businesses here that employ Bermudians?”

The Premier took umbrage at opposition remarks which targeted him specifically, because of the potential woes of the fintech industry as a result of the latest issues.

He said: “I don’t understand how it is a blow to Premier Burt. It is a blow to those persons who may be affected.

“It is as though they are so blinded by their hatred and animosity towards me that they would put out a statement like this.

“To use a situation that has absolutely nothing to do with Bermuda in an attempt to try to tie it in somehow and attack.”

“Here’s the truth. Local banks wouldn’t bank (fintech business). The diligent persons in the public service worked to find a solution that worked.

“I know that the ‘combined opposition’ is trying, like ever, to use a circumstance completely out of the control of the Government of Bermuda, as an attempt to try to tear down the ambitions of this Government.”

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Published March 15, 2023 at 7:54 am (Updated March 15, 2023 at 3:05 pm)

Premier defends against concerns raised about fintech future

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