Banks Clarify License Status

The National Bank of Cam­bodia Thursday issued a statement saying it would keep information on commercial bank licenses confidential until it had further completed the bank relicensing process. Meanwhile, three banks Thursday issued statements concerning their licensing status.

“We are presently reaching the final stage of bank relicensing,” the NBC said in its statement.

A 1999 law required banks to deposit $13 million with the National Bank of Cambodia. Eleven banks closed. Sixteen remaining banks either deposited the $13 million or were issued memoranda of understanding setting a deadline of Dec 31, 2001.

“Obviously, following the signing of [the memoranda], some controls need to be performed in order to make sure that commitments of banks were held,” the statement said. “This implies, notably, that the review of some annual financial statements should be achieved.

“We are presently reaching the final stage of bank relicensing. The department of banking supervision is working hard on it.”

National Bank officials were wary of discussing matters further.

But two banks confirmed Thursday they have deposited the $13 million, bringing the known number of banks with new licenses to nine.

Credit Agricole Indosuez general manager Bernard Pardigon said Thursday that his bank had been fully licensed since May 2001.

The Cambodian Commercial Bank issued a statement Thursday saying they had deposited $13 million with the National Bank before the deadline.

The Cambodia Asia Bank Thursday confirmed it was still open, but officials authorized to discuss its license status were unavailable for comment.

Other banks may be fully licensed, or they may have received deadline extensions from the National Bank while they seek capital, according to banking executives and observers.

Depositors will apparently have to wait for a public announcement from the National Bank or contact their banks to find out if they are licensed.

Citing the sensitivity of the banking industry and a national  banking law that prohibits discussion “relating to its confidentiality [in] professional affairs,” the National Bank said it would not discuss further developments until they “deserve public announcement.”

The National Bank, with the help of the International Monetary Fund and other agencies, has been trying to streamline the banking sector and developing a financial market to better manage the economy and spur investment.

Government and banking officials have said the closing of several weaker banks was a positive step toward increasing public confidence in the banking system.

“The NBC will take the lead in strengthening a framework for monetary policy,” said Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon in a speech to international donors Wednesday.

The NBC will be responsible for a “competitive…and efficient banking system that is properly regulated and supervised,” he said.

A  revamped banking system is necessary in order to encourage investment, Keat Chhon said.


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