PNB banka payouts to total nearly 300 million euros

Following the suspension of PNB Bank's ability to offer services as a result of action by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FKTK), almost 300 million euros will be paid out to depositors, FKTK's acting chairwoman said August 16.

The Deposit Guarantee Scheme which is in place to cover just such eventualities as bank shutdowns and collapses provides each PNB Bank customer with a guaranteed deposit reimbursement of up to €100,000.

"The money will be paid to clients from the state-guaranteed fund, and there will be enough money for everyone," said Kristīne Černaja-Mežmale, acting FKTK head.

Finance Minister Jānis Reirs (New Unity) confirmed what FKTK had already said - that 99.2% of the bank's customer deposits should be covered within a matter of days. No additional public expenditure would be required in addition to those already in place, he insisted. 

"The suspension of PNB bank is a decision by the European Central Bank and the European regulatory mechanism," Reirs said. He denied the fact that the ECB had taken over direct supervision of the modestly-sized bank in the spring had been a warning sign, pointing out that it happened as a result of a court case brought by the bank against the Latvian state.

Reirs played down the significance of the bank, saying "European structures have confirmed this is not a systemically important bank."

Deposits are expected to be paid by August 27. The exact means remains to be finalized, but in the cases of several of the most recent bank shutdowns - ABLV bank in 2018 and Latvijas Krājbanka in 2011, another local bank, Citadele, was used to make payments to depositors. In the shutdown of Trasta Komercbanka in 2016, clients had to attend branches of the bank.

More about the Deposit Guarantee Fund and how it works can be found at the FKTK website

Until last year, PNB banka was known as Norvik banka and had a colorful history. It was founded in 1992 and was a popular choice for pensioners. Around two thirds of its customers are pensioners.

From 2014 until June this year it was majority owned by Russian-born British citizen Grigory Guselnikov. Norvik and Guselnikov had been linked to several controversies in recent years, most notably a war of words with central bank governor Ilmārs Rimsēvičs. It was also involved in taking Latvia to international arbitration over another dispute.

In July 2017 Norvik was fined more than a million euros by the financial regulator after being named by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as one of the Latvian banks used to channel funds to North Korea.

Norvik previously attempted to overhaul its image in 2014 with the introduction of a new logo and branch design. However, that met with some opposition from the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in Latvia, which said the use of a flag similar to Norway's was "misleading consumers" into thinking it was a Norwegian bank. 

Famously the bank featured former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on its advisory council.

FKTK has set up an English-language hotline for clients of PNB which will operate 16.08.2019 from 9.00-20.00: (+371) 67774841; 67774821; 67774876; 67774831; 67774933; 67774983; 67774936; 67774961; 67774878; 67774877; 67774910; 67774930; 67774935; 67774863

There is also a handy Q&A section in English on the FKTK website outlining the current state of play: https://www.fktk.lv/en/customer-protection/information-about-jsc-pnb-banka/questions-and-answers-about-the-suspension-of-jsc-pnb-bankas-activities/

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