Another important bank in RS under liquidation

Another important bank in RS under liquidation

Banja Luka, May 11, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

Just a few months after Bobar bank disappeared from the list of financial institutions in RS, another Bank underwent liquidation process and doesn’t exist any more.

This time it was the Bank of Srpska, the institution which was established 16 years ago as a Balkan Investment Bank with large percent of Lithuanian money from “UKIO Group”. This group owned the major packages of shares in many enterprises. After almost a decade of business in BiH, investigation discovered that bank owners laundered money through several accounts. It is estimated that more than 1.5 billion of BAM was laundered and transferred on the accounts in different countries. Its Lithuanian owners fled BiH and left chaos in banking system in RS.

The entity Government decided to recapitalize this bank and establish another institution under the name ‘Bank of Srpska’. Moreover, after Bobar Bank experienced difficulties in its work, many Government institutions opened accounts in Bank of Srpska. After final fall of Bobar Bank, Bank of Srpska became the first governmental financial institution and almost all Government transfers were made over accounts in this bank. It looked like a successful story but this bank had more and more problems in financial business. The problems inceased so much that this bank became one of the biggest issues in negotiations of BiH and its entities with International Monetary Fund regarding the new financial agreement. The Bank of Srpska was closed in November 2015 and since then the RS Government is trying to reestablish this institution. After many attempts and proposals for the reorganization and transfer into the “special financial institution”, the RS Banking Agency decided to send this Bank in liquidation. Surprisingly, the RS Government did not file a complaint on this decision and it came to power today.

This means that all bank clients with deposits less than 50 000 BAM (25 000 Euro) will be compensated by BiH Agency for deposit insurance. For those who had deposits over this amount, the future is uncertain. It is estimated that the total of deposits in the bank are about 150 million BAM (75 million Euro) and that about 55 million BAM (27,5 million Euro) are insured by the Agency. The rest of the deposits will be partially paid from Bank collected loans and from the sale of the bank’s possessions.

The RS Ministry of finance, after the Banking Agency’s decision came into force, announced that it had formed a plan for the reorganization of Bank of Srpska, which would ensure the stable payment of all deposits, but that plan was not accepted. In the announcement, the Ministry emphasized that this plan was made as a result of the estimated possibility of survival of this bank in the banking market, the intention of the RS Government, as the biggest shareholder,  to compensate the depositors and creditors of the bank in a responsible way, but also as a result of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund on the financial arrangement for BiH.

The Banking Agency decision put an end to this case. The question is: which bank is going to be next?