Ac­tion taken by the MFSA on Sata­bank still leaves us un­easy – GRTU

● Small de­posits to start be­ing re­leased; Hard­ship Fund from to­mor­row

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS - Rachel At­tard

The ac­tion taken by the Malta Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Author­ity with re­gard to the Sata­bank sit­u­a­tion, which has left de­pos­i­tors high and dry and with­out ac­cess to their funds, is still leav­ing an un­easy feel­ing amongst the GRTU and its mem­bers, GRTU CEO Abi­gail Mamo told The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day.

Speak­ing to this news­pa­per, she ex­plained: “In the re­search and dis­cus­sions we have had over the past months, we have learnt more about how this is­sue could have been han­dled in or­der to af­fect de­posits as min­i­mally as pos­si­ble.

“Yet, we are not in the know, since in­for­ma­tion has been very scarce, but ef­fort has been made by the au­thor­i­ties to put our mind at rest that what hap­pened in Sata­bank was suf­fi­ciently se­ri­ous to have war­ranted the most dras­tic ac­tion a reg­u­la­tor could take.”

Fast for­ward through a month of se­vere stress for de­pos­i­tors and a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on busi­nesses, and there have now been two small, yet im­por­tant and wel­come pieces of news for the HRTU and Sata­bank clients. Ac­cord­ing to Mamo: “The fact that small de­posits will be­gin be­ing re­leased from to­mor­row (Mon­day) is a step in the right di­rec­tion. On the same day, busi­nesses will also be able to start mak­ing use of a spe­cific scheme, ap­pro­pri­ately called the ‘Hard­ship Fund’.”

The Fund is a bridg­ing loan fa­cil­ity es­tab­lished by Malta En­ter­prise specif­i­cally in re­ac­tion to the con­cerns raised by the GRTU and its mem­bers. It will start ad­dress­ing what this whole Sata­bank saga has bro­ken for busi­ness.

Mamo said that the GRTU wel­comes these steps and its mem­bers, di­rect busi­ness vic­tims, have also re­acted pos­i­tively over­all. But, she adds: “Our mem­bers are, how­ever, still very an­gry and rightly so. They have suf­fered dam­age that is be­yond re­pair and up to to­day they do not have a time­line of when they can ex­pect to get their funds back. The re­al­ity is that, even with these steps that have been taken, busi­nesses are still on hold.

She added that busi­nesses still feel short-changed by the bad hand they have been dealt by the au­thor­i­ties in the Sata­bank saga “and we are sure no ef­fort can com­pen­sate for the dam­age these peo­ple have suf­fered, both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally.

“Just this week I spent half an hour talk­ing to a lady, an EU na­tional, hear­ing how this last month has been the worst time in her and her hus­band’s life. These peo­ple, who are in a very se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial predica­ment, have taken out loans to pay their staff and have spent many sleep­less nights con­sid­er­ing how to save their busi­nesses, with no ac­count to re­ceive funds into and no ac­cess to pay their busi­ness sup­pli­ers.

“She ex­plained to me how, dur­ing this month, her least con­cern was hav­ing her and her hus­band’s wages paid. Some peo­ple have taken out of their pen­sion fund, their life-sav­ings, to try and patch things up, with­out know­ing if they will ever see that money again, and all this through no fault of their own.”

Busi­nesses own­ers should be re­spected and no one should be made to go through some­thing like this, Mamo in­sisted. She added that the sit­u­a­tion had clearly been mis­man­aged and that the steps we are cel­e­brat­ing now with re­gard to Mon­day’s pos­si­bil­i­ties should have been in place a month ago “be­cause you can­not just close a bank with­out think­ing of the hard­ships such ac­tion will cre­ate for de­pos­i­tors. You do not close a bank with­out hav­ing a scheme ready to help de­pos­i­tors.

Abi­gail Mamo

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