Bank of America Said to Follow Barclays Canceling Venezuela Tripby
Clients told ‘the situation has deteriorated’ in recent weeks
Safety concerns upend investor visit planned for September
Bank of America Corp. canceled an investor trip to Venezuela planned for next month because of security reasons, making it the second bank to do so in a span of weeks amid rising social tensions in the nation.
The bank notified clients last week the trip was off. Its sales staff then told clients in a separate e-mail “the situation has deteriorated in Venezuela in the last few weeks as the economic and political crisis has deepened,” according to people who received the update. “As a result, the perceived safety risks have increased significantly beyond what we are willing to tolerate at the moment.”
The decision comes after Barclays Plc scrapped its own Caracas travel plans in July because its security team deemed the trip “unwise” unless the bank took “significantly enhanced” safety measures. Bloomberg reported the Barclays cancellation on Aug. 11.
Home to the world’s third-highest homicide rate, Venezuela has long been one of the globe’s most dangerous places. The collapse in oil prices has deepened an economic crisis in the nation and exacerbated food shortages, causing crime to become widespread. That has in turn fueled vigilante justice, with a rash of mob lynchings, predominantly in poorer neighborhoods, sweeping across the country this year.
Despite the risks, banks frequently organize trips for clients to see potential investment destinations first-hand so that they can talk to government officials and business executives and assess the mood on the ground. JPMorgan Chase & Co. went through with its trip to Caracas several weeks ago.
Melissa Anchan, a Bank of America spokeswoman, declined to comment.