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Bank wars: OTSz vs. charter; Fidesz vs. forex loaners

Initiatives

On the day before National Association of Saving Cooperatives (OTSz) member institutions vote on whether to accept a restructuring of the cooperative bank subsector under the government-run Takarékbank, Fidesz is taking a hardline stance on the financial institutions who awarded the forex-based mortgage loans.

 

On Friday, OTSz recommended that participating cooperatives approve the Takarékbank charter – although begrudgingly enough to call the decisions regarding the restructuring “made because of legal coercion.”

Citing European Union requirements, the charter calls for a restructuring the savings co-op industry; individual co-ops have already surrendered their shares in the government-run Takarékbank, with the Tuesday vote expected to finalize the government’s moves. In protest, OTSz Managing Director Antal Varga resigned his position as president of the Zirc savings cooperative.

Also reported by OTSz representatives was the association’s newly-filed lawsuit against state-owned postal service Magyar Posta for compensation. Magyar Posta reportedly was able to acquire a sizable share in Takarékbank by paying 20% of market value for the stocks.

Meanwhile, as the sitting government attempts to find a solution for the forex-based mortgage loan mess – surely soon to officially reach “crisis” level – majority party Fidesz has fired a populist-tinged shot across lending institutions’ bows.

A statement from the party read in part that “Fidesz understands the Hungarian families pushed into a difficult or even a hopeless situation by irresponsible lending from banks” and further requested that the banks acknowledge responsibility for the financial woes of borrowers.

The statement was likely a response to the Hungarian Banking Association, which had cancelled a scheduled meeting with representatives of civil organizations CÖKA and the Civil Unity Forum (CÖF), though the Association did promise a future meeting.

The civil organizations had previously submitted a report to Chief Prosecutor on the topic of forex-based mortgage loans, a report which is said to include allegations of fraud.

Finally, an interesting note: While financial market regulator PSzÁF reported an overall after-tax loss of HUF 43.5 billion for lending institutions in the second quarter of 2013, branch banks and savings cooperatives nevertheless showed an overall profit in the April-June period.

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