Depositors, Bank Meet, But Resolve Nothing

Depositors of the closed Agri­culture and Commercial Bank and a National Bank official failed during a meeting Tuesday to find a way to return depositors” mon­ey, said Seng Phally, president of the depositors’ rights protection committee.

“We are very disappointed,” said Seng Phally, whose committee represents 30 NGOs, 20 private companies, two labor unions and about 300 squatter families. All of those now have money locked in the bank, which was shut down early last month after it failed to meet new banking requirements.

“Our money is [lost] very easily because the central bank doesn’t take any serious action to protect us,” he said.

According to the committee, its members have nearly 200 bank accounts at the Agriculture and Commercial Bank, totaling

$1 million. They have attempted to recover their deposits but the bank’s management has apparently abandoned the bank and cannot be found.

The committee has sought the National Bank’s help in resolving the issue, asking officials there to recover their money promptly. But so far, no action has been ta­ken, Seng Phally claimed.

However, National Bank officials said Tuesday that the central bank has pushed things forward in liquidating the 11 closed banks.

“We are following the law,” said Phan Ho, director of the central bank’s supervisory department, who met committee representatives. “They just want money back, but technically the bank cannot provide money without auditing.”

According to the banking law, each closed commercial bank will be audited by an administrator appointed by the National Bank to examine the bank’s assets and liabilities.

A bank-appointed liquidator will then sell assets, collect loans from clients and pay back de­posits. The law states an administrator should be appointed within three months after the closure—early March for most of the closed banks. The assessment of a bank’s financial status can be stretched out for an additional three months.

A senior official said on the condition of anonymity that the bank has received auditing proposals from all four audit firms in Phnom Penh, and the National Bank is now negotiating the price for the liquidation jobs. Admin­istrators will be named within a few days, the official added.

“We will choose the best one for the benefits of depositors.,” the official said.


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