Auditor: National Bank Needs More Time

An auditor appointed by the National Bank said Thursday that financial assessments of six closed commercial banks might take at least another month or two, delaying liquidation.

Jean-Jacques Brutschi of the Paris-based auditing firm Donat Branger said advance repayments for depositors at the Agri­culture and Commercial Bank are “emergency payments,” which do not apply to other liquidating banks.

“There are lots of small depositors at the Agriculture and Com­mercial Bank,” he said. “We want to help those small depositors first.”

Several local NGOs and Ph­nom Penh squatter families de­posited 100 or 200 riel per day in the bank as part of small-scale sa­vings programs.

All customers at that bank will be repaid up to 2 million riel, or $500, as a first payment before the Khmer New Year, if they come to the bank with their passbooks and ID cards.

Further repayment will be determined after a thorough assessment of the bank’s assets and liabilities is completed, Brut­schi said.

“The liquidation assessment is far from completion at this moment,” Brutschi said, adding that he is not sure yet if the bank can repay all the de­posits. The bank has about 2,000 ac­counts.

Donat Branger was appointed by the central bank late last month to administer and liquidate six of the 11 closed banks.

Last December, the central bank closed three banks, including the Agriculture and Com­mercial, after they failed to meet tougher banking regulations, particularly the $13 million minimum capital requirement.

Others were inactive for several years or voluntarily ceased oper­a­tions.

The six banks Donat Branger currently administers include Great International and Rich Nation, which were forced to close; Pacific Commercial the Phnom Penh City Bank, which closed voluntarily; and Cambodia Farmers, which was inactive.

Morison Kak & Associates, local partner of Morison Inter­national, in January started winding up operations of the Angkor Bank and the Global Commercial Bank. Both closed voluntarily.

The current status at the Bang­kok Bank Public, which closed voluntarily, and Bank Cambodia International and Chansav­angwonk Bank, which were both inactive, were not available Thurs­day.

Brutschi said all deposits at the Phnom Penh City Bank were paid back by the bank management before he took over the bank’s administration early this month. The other five banks are still being assessed, he said.

By law, an appointed administrator has three months to audit assets and liabilities of a liquidating bank. Upon completion of assessments, liquidation begins with the selling of assets, collecting credits and refunding depo­sits.

Fees for provisional administration and liquidation, taxes to the government and salaries of bank staff are paid first upon liquidation.

Regular depositors then receive a compulsory repayment of up to 2 million riel, or about $500, if the bank’s liabilities are larger than assets after the sale of all properties.



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