By Clive Leviev – Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security and the Interior Ministry are investigating a campaign against two banks, after text messages and e-mails were sent in recent days to the media and other opinion leaders alleging that the banks were unstable and advising people to withdraw their deposits from them.
The campaign came some days after central Bulgarian National Bank placed Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) under special supervision for three months, subsequently adding the bank’s acquisition Credit Agricole.
CCB asked to be put under special supervision in a letter sent to the BNB on June 20, notifying the central bank that it had stopped all payments and other bank operations because of insufficient liquidity, BNB said in a statement on June 22.
Bulgarian National Bank chief Ivan Iskrov(photo) emphasised that the CCB had not gone bankrupt and the BNB undertook a quick and decisive step to prevent bankruptcy. Iskrov said that there was no need for depositors to worry about losing their money.
After the e-mail and SMS campaign began against two different banks in Bulgaria, police visited branches to check whether queues had formed in response to the campaign alleging that the banks were unstable. Unconfirmed media reports alleged that people were being offered money to form “false queues” outside the banks’ offices.
Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev confirmed on June 27 that the ministry was an investigating an attack aimed at destabilising the banking system.
Yovchev reiterated that the Bulgarian banking system was stable. This too has been the message repeatedly from the central bank.
He said that from recent discussions, it was clear that Bulgaria’s banking system was very stable and had good evaluations externally. The state had the resources and tools to respond to any malicious attack, Yovchev said.
“We are absolutely determined to investigate and those responsible will get what they deserve,” Yovchev said.
Asked who was behind the attack, he declined to discuss this, saying “talking about that – who has an interest and who is doing it – could only lead to further tension”.
Bulgarian National Bank also confirmed that there had been an attempt to attack the banking system.
The central bank said that it had repeatedly emphasised that the Bulgarian banking system was performing well and functioning smoothly.
However, in recent days there had been an attempt to destabilise the country through an organised attack on Bulgarian banks with no reason.
The attack on one of them, on June 26, was carried out by an epidemic of rumours and malicious public statements, the central bank said.
“Such criminal acts are directly against the savings of every Bulgarian citizen and against financial stability as an essential element of national security.”
Bulgarian National Bank underlined that it would use all its means and resources to ensure people’s savings.
“We appeal to Parliament, the government and the President of the country to support our actions in defence of the financial and banking stability for the good of Bulgaria and its citizens.
“We urge the competent authorities, including the prosecution, the Interior Ministry and the State Agency for National Security to implement to the full extent the laws against false and malicious rumors and speculation,” the central bank said.