Loans amounting to several hundred million euros, which were approved without any merit whatsoever, led to the demise of five Serbian banks which were stripped off their licenses in the period from June 2012 to February 2014.
A total of 170 million EUR disappeared from these banks, the relevant investigation concluded. There are also four separate court proceedings in Belgrade regarding the alleged misuse in granting bank loans with 50 or so people charged for the misuse. They are mostly top officials from these banks, as well as their assistants and department heads. So far, there hasn’t been a single verdict made in these cases.
In the meantime, the five banks in question – Agrobanka, Nova Agrobanka, the Development Bank of Vojvodina (the former Metals Banka), Privredna Banka Beograd and Univerzal Banka – have all declared bankruptcy. The data compiled by the Deposit Insurance Agency shows that the liquidation value of combined assets of the five banks stands at 160 billion dinars or 1.3 billion EUR.
The decline started with Agrobanka in which the National Bank of Serbia declared receivership in late 2012. The reason stated for this was “that the relevant inspection has ascertained that the capital that Agrobanka disposes of does not correspond to the level of risk undertaken by the bank”. The bank was soon stripped off its operating license, and a new bank – Nova Agrobanka – was formed in its place which took over the total deposits of the old Agrobanka, as well as some other liabilities and claims. Soon, Nova Agrobanka shared the same destiny as the old Agrobanka with Postanska Stedionica taking over the bank’s assets, worth 158 million EUR, as well as its liabilities amounting to 419 million EUR.
The investigation in the Development Bank of Vojvodina started in March 2013, with the indictment filed in March 2014. The first arrests of the bank’s officials happened in 2011. They were accused of mishandling 39 loans, worth around 1.6 billion dinars which were had been approved to companies which had close ties to the bank.
Privredna Banka Beograd (PBB) is the next on the list of the failed banks. The investigation into the dealings of this bank started in November 2014, and the indictment was made in July 2015. The trial for the alleged misuse of power and 3.9 billion dinar loss started in September 2016. Just like in the case of Nova Agrobanka, Postanska Stedionica also took over some of the bank’s assets worth 7 billion dinars, as well as some of the bank’s liabilities in the amount of 18 billion dinars.
Last but not least was Univerzal Banka which had its operating license taken away in January 2014, on the account of “the bank suffering from critical level of undercapitalization, and jeopardized liquidity and operational continuity”. The people who had their money saved in the bank were reimbursed with a total of 80 million EUR. In January 2015, prosecution filed charges against six executives from Univerzal Banka.
(Vecernje Novosti, 04.10.2017)
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