Barclays Bank to finally close its Gibraltar operations

Published:  25 Apr at 6 PM
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After 125 years’ service to expats and residents on Britain’s overseas territory Rock of Gibraltar, Barclays Bank is finally shutting its doors and departing.

A strategic review of the bank’s operations in Gibraltar took place in 2014, sounding the death knell for over a century of providing financial services to residents and expats on the Rock. Since then, a skeleton staff of 14 permanent employees and two contracted workers has focused operations on the bank’s local high net worth clients and large businesses.

All staff at the bank will lose their jobs as part of what is seen as an incentive by the bank to focus only on UK and USA business. According to Barclays’ vice president for government relations Theo Leonard, most remaining clients have accounts at branches in Jersey and London and will continue to access the bank’s services as a result, including via ‘fly-ins’ where personal contact is deemed necessary by the client.

Gibraltar’s government is clearly unhappy with the bank’s closure, stating that Barclays is letting down its employees and their families, especially those who were forced to stay on once the bank closed its day-to-day operations in the territory. The bank’s decision, according to the government, clearly had nothing to do with any aspect of the Rock as a financial jurisdiction and was simply related to its plan to concentrate its efforts elsewhere.

Since its new corporate strategy was introduced in 2014, Barclays has been systematically divesting itself of its overseas–based money management businesses. Recent sales initiated by order of its new chief executive Jes Stanley include its Singapore/Hong Kong WIM businesses, sold to a Chinese bank. A majority share in its Jersey-based Zedra trsut and fiduciary business has also been sold, and the bank has announced the closures of its investment banking offices in nine countries.

The refocusing of Barclays’ international operations has included attempts over the last several years to close long-standing personal accounts held onshore and offshore by expats living overseas. The move has caused problems for many long-term holders of accounts in the UK as well as in several offshore jurisdictions.
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