Banks Extend Repayment Period, See Completion of Audit

Despite their initial anger and demands for repayment, only half of the expected clients of the closed Agriculture and Commer­cial Bank showed up at the bank to reclaim their deposits, according to the bank’s liquidator.

The French-based audit firm Donat Branger, appointed in late February by the National Bank of Cambodia, has decided to extend its advance repayment dates for three more days next week—April 18, 19 and 20—to give clients one more chance to recover their money.

“Only about 50 percent of the depositors came to the bank to get their money back,” said Jean-Jacques Brutschi of the French firm. “It was a little surprising,” he said.

Brutschi said in the last two weeks repayments were completed for fewer than 800 accounts; another 700 to 800 depositors have failed to come forward to the bank during that period. The rest of the existing 2,000 accounts are zero balance, he said.

Agriculture and Commercial is one of 11 banks shut down in late December by the central bank that have now been liquidated. That bank had many small depositors, including squatter families who deposited 100 or 200 riel per day, since it was one of only a handful of banks that accepted small deposits in riel.

After the forced closure, however, the management abandoned its clients without notice or repayments.

Sympathizing with small depositors and NGOs that cannot operate because deposits are frozen at the bank, the liquidator started advance repayments of up to 2 million riel or $500 on April 2.

This was done before completing a financial assessment of the bank as an emergency measure before this year’s Khmer New Year celebrations, which start today.

The three-day extension is the last chance for depositors to get their advance repayment.

“I hope everybody will come over during the next three days,” he said, “otherwise, they have to wait to get money back until the end of liquidation.”

Chea Dara, NGO Padex’s credit officer, said he was able to recover $3,500 of $300,000 deposited in 10 bank accounts for his NGO and squatter families.

“We are still struggling for our money,” he said. “We hope all our money will be paid back soon.”

Meanwhile, Brutschi said he has completed the examination of Phnom Penh City Bank’s financial status, calling its depositors to appear at the bank to claim their money by April 21.

“All depositors were already paid back by the bank” before taking over the bank’s liquidation operation,” Brutschi said.

“We would like to make sure if there are not any other small depositors left out.”

He said financial assessments of Pacific Commercial, Great Inter­national and Rich Nation will be done by mid-May.


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