Hugo Chavez threat­ens to na­tion­alise banks on lend­ing

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

CARA­CAS: Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez threat­ened to na­tion­alise any bank should they fail to pro­vide hous­ing loans, in­clud­ing a unit of Spain's Banco Bil­bao Viz­caya Ar­gen­taria SA and Banesco Banco Uni­ver­sal, the coun­try's largest lender.

BBVA Pro­vin­cial and Banesco are among banks that could be taken over if they fail to com­ply with govern­ment-set lend­ing re­quire­ments for home­buy­ers, Chavez said. Chavez made the com­ments af­ter call­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Banco Na­cional de Cred­ito CA for fail­ing to process mort­gage re­quests. "Any bank that slips will be ex­pro­pri­ated, whether it´s called Banesco, Pro­vin­cial or which­ever," Chavez said yes­ter­day on state tele­vi­sion.

Chavez, who was speak­ing from a mil­i­tary base in Cara­cas with a group of peo­ple dis­placed by heavy rains, has called on the banks to help him solve a hous­ing deficit in the South Amer­i­can coun­try. The 56-year-old pres­i­dent has promised new apart­ments to peo­ple who lost their homes in mud­slides and flood­ing from the rains that have killed at least 32 peo­ple.

Jose Maria Nogueroles, pres­i­dent of BNC, said to­day in a phone in­ter­view that the bank is in full com­pli­ance with its mort­gage port­fo­lio and that Chavez's com­ments came as a "sur­prise." A spokes­woman at Pro­vin­cial de­clined to com­ment. "Banks that com­ply with the norms shouldn't have any­thing to worry about," Juan Car­los Es­cotet, pres­i­dent of Banesco and the Venezue­lan Bank­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, said on his Twit­ter ac­count. "The men­tion­ing of Pro­vin­cial and Banesco is to em­pha­size that any bank that fails to com­ply will be sanc­tioned, re­gard­less of its size."

The govern­ment has closed 14 mostly small to medium-size banks since Novem­ber 2009 for al­leged liq­uid­ity prob­lems, ap­pro­pri­a­tion of de­posits and unau­tho­rized merg­ers.

With the takeovers and Chavez's $1.05 bil­lion pur­chase last year of Banco de Venezuela, a lo­cal unit of Spain's Banco San­tander SA, the govern­ment now holds 31 per­cent of all loans in the coun­try. Venezuela's Bank­ing Su­per­in­ten­dent will in­ves­ti­gate banks to ver­ify whether they are com­ply­ing with govern­ment man­dates to fund hous­ing, agri­cul­ture, tourism and man­u­fac­tur­ing projects, ac­cord­ing to an e-mailed state­ment.

"The whole bank­ing sys­tem must fi­nance spe­cific sec­tors and we're hop­ing they show a greater will­ing­ness," Edgar Behrens, the su­per­in­ten­dent, said in the state­ment. -PB News

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