Our Analytics 29 july — 15:03

What Elman Rustamov was talking about was organised crime (Our comment)

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BY ELNUR MAMMADOV, ECONOMY SECTION

The problem of closed banks and compensation for depositors has become so large-scale that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also took an interest in it at a government meeting dedicated to the results of socio-economic development in the first half of 2020 and the challenges ahead. Head of the Central Bank Elman Rustamov briefed the head of state in general terms, but he did not touch on one important problem. Meanwhile, this problem, which is just right for the Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to manage, has grown so much that the Constitutional Court is already dealing with it.

Elman Rustamov

The reader has probably already guessed that we are talking about four closed banks: Atabank OJSC, AG Bank OJSC, NBC Bank OJSC and Amrahbank OJSC. Rather, only about the first three of them, which continued to accept deposits from citizens despite the corresponding ban of the regulator. The result is a picture that the authorities want to pass off as ordinary banking confusion, when in fact it speaks of organised crime on a fairly large scale. And the point is not only that as a result of such a trick of banks, specific people are suffering today, who, without knowing it, have now become outlaw depositors. Yes, having formalised their deposits in accordance with all the rules, they, as it turned out, do not have such a status, and the invested money has become nobody's.

Interestingly, only in the course of the recent process of returning deposits in four banks deprived of licenses by the Central Bank, it turned out that a few months earlier, the regulator had banned these financial institutions from accepting deposits, which the latter did not attach importance to, continuing to accept deposits from the population. As a result, a paradoxical situation has arisen when banks, even with all their desire, cannot return deposits (they are illegal), and persons who have placed deposits in these banks are faced with problems of returning their money. And, apparently, for a long time.

How could this have happened, because today is not the 1990s, when any banker could go to the most unexpected machinations, and then disappear with a bag of grabbed money. It is difficult to say who came up with the idea to prohibit banks from accepting deposits, and behind the scenes. Of course, the announcement of such a decision in advance could lead to undesirable consequences: clients on a massive scale would demand their deposits back, while banks would not be able to do this. Panic could develop into a political action, which the banks do not need. On the other hand, it is impossible to refuse to place a deposit to clients either: the reason must be provided. And this is tantamount to the official announcement of the expected end of this bank.

And, perhaps, the banking expert Akram Hasanov is right, believing that it would be wiser to immediately close the bank, and not apply such restrictions. The bankers chose the lesser of two evils: violation of the regulation of the regulator, not of the law. And today no one can find the culprit for this secret operation of the regulator, which last summer was the Chamber for Supervision of Financial Markets, which was liquidated at the end of the same year. Or rather, no one seeks, so in any case it seems. So it turns out that there seem to be no guilty ones, and people, whose number is also unknown, have to suffer through the fault of these very 'innocents.'

Bankers' negligence should not be dealt with by the Constitutional Court, but by the criminal investigation authorities

Meanwhile, the case reached the Constitutional Court. Yes, the Central Bank and the Deposit Insurance Fund are already familiar with the consequences of dark games with depositors. They need to return the money, but how? The banks are currently undergoing liquidation and bank deposits accepted by them during the ban period are not subject to compensation. So they turned to the Cabinet of Ministers with a request to call on the country's Constitutional Court for help, so that it would give its interpretation of the situation that had arisen through the prism of Azerbaijani legislation. This is to what extent our banks have complicated a simple situation. And not only them. Seeing the approach of its end, the Chamber did not dare to close the banks in time, taking advantage of this, they, too, foreseeing their logical end, did everything to make a little profit. Some have made a fortune, others have lost money, but there are no guilty ones.

Recently, at a regular session of the Chamber of the Constitutional Court, a request from the Cabinet of Ministers was considered in order to protect the rights of depositors of AtaBank, AGBank and NBCBank, who are in liquidation. It was decided to submit this request for discussion at a meeting of the plenary session of the Constitutional Court. Of course, it is necessary to help the victims. Besides, there is nothing to blame them for this time. And this help, as is customary in our country, will most likely be provided at the expense of the state, that is, you and me. But it's time to finally think: how long will some persons fool innocent people, and the state will pay for it. As if this is how it should be. After all, a simple mistake of a bank clerk could not become the subject of analysis at the Constitutional Court.

It would be time to look for the guilty, and to press them against the wall. So that others would be discouraged. If there are restrictions on accepting deposits in any bank, and information about this has not been published, then the depositor should not suffer from this and be held liable. Yes, if the bank is prohibited from accepting deposits, it should not attract them. And the relevant government agencies should control this. Unfortunately, we have a lot of them.

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