Question marks over fate of Rīga housing manager's €6m deposit at PNB

After PNB banka folded in mid-August, its administrator has asked former clients to submit pay-out requests within three months. Rīga's municipal housing manager, Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks (RNP), is among these clients and there are questions whether €6m worth of homeowners' money deposited with the company will be returned, reported LTV's De facto September 22.

It is understood that most, but not all of the €6m RNP kept with the bank belonged to its clients. Now RNP says all of its clients qualify for a state-guaranteed deposit reimbursement of up to €100,000 as none of them have deposited more with the company.  

But it is not clear whether the housing manager has done all it could to ensure clients don't lose their money. RNP boss Aivars Gontarevs said that the money, which belongs to 2,476 clients, should be repaid according to procedure, i.e. as if their deposits were separate and each of them qualified for a guaranteed repayment of €100,000.

"The bank has no other option. At any rate, RNP was authorized to receive money from homeowners to transfer it to service providers. And we have submitted all the details to the finance watchdog on who owns the money and how much of it. We have to wait for their decision. [..] To us it's clear. It's a state decision, over which side they'll take, that of the residents or that of the banks, as usual," he said.

Meanwhile the company's board member Ivo Lecis, who is responsible for finances at RNP, refused an interview. De facto was told that a decision by the regulator is expected in late September and therefore the company would only discuss further details in October.

But the regulator, the Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FKTK), told De facto that, should a company undertake managing money belonging to a third-party, it should conclude agreements with the bank over each client, said FKTK representativeJeļena Ļebedeva.

"If the depositor didn't do this – or I would venture to say didn't meet his obligations – and didn't conclude a proper agreement at the bank, [..] it's taken to mean that there's only one depositor who receives just €100,000. That's it. That's what the law requires," said Ļebedeva.

The housing manager did not confirm it concluded such agreements with its clients. 

If clients at RNP won't be able to qualify to receive the minimum guaranteed deposit, the company will have to join the ranks of non-priority creditors and likely face lengthy court battles with its clients.

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.

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