Deposit Guarantee Fund: Bakhmatyuk offered to pay VAB Bank's debt but NABU case prevented this from happening
Svitlana Rekrut, Managing Director of the Individual Deposit Guarantee Fund, in an interview with Mind spoke about Oleg Bakhmatyuk offering to voluntarily pay off VAB Bank's debt, which would the most beneficial path for the state to resolve the issue. However, NABU, by launching a criminal probe into the businessman, froze the process.
Asked by a Mind journalist of how the Fund evaluates Oleg Bakhmatyuk’s earlier proposals on voluntary debt settlement, Svitlana Rekrut replied: "The Bakhmatyuk topic is very relevant now. We had received offers from him on restructuring of the debt to the Fund and to the National Bank. The first one came two years ago. It had no specific figures, it was just a declaration of intent. We, in turn, decided to start exploring legal opportunities, but it all ended with that." However, Rekrut claims, now the topic of contractual debt settlement is becoming for the Guarantee Fund "a key, if not the only, source of funds for paying creditors".
The managing director of the Deposit Guarantee Fund stated that voluntary settlement is the most beneficial way for the state to settle bank debts: "If we talk about the experience of recovering assets in civil or criminal proceedings, there's an average 25-30 cents of expenses on each dollar received. In general, this is a rather costly and long process all over the world, which may not bring us a quick and desired result. And as for voluntary settlement, it is always a discount. A peaceful settlement process is faster and less costly than litigation, but it’s a discount to the amount owed."
Returning to a specific case regarding Bakhmatyuk, Svitlana Rekrut said there were several proposals that had come from him. In the latter one "he offered UAH 8 billion in total for the Fund and the NBU, of which UAH 500 million is put in an escrow account or a deposit to confirm all seriousness of his intentions, while he shall pay the entire amount within five to seven years."
After the first proposal, the Fund's executive management decided to consider the possibility of a voluntary settlement, namely: to study legal mechanisms, develop a legal framework, conduct consultations, calculations, etc. "There were no decisions on the second proposal. We did not reject it, but we did not agree, either, for one simple reason: in order to accept or reject this kind of proposal, a real analysis in two directions is required."
However, after the start of the NABU procedural actions, the situation with Bakhmatyuk’s voluntary settlement of bank debt froze: "Now it's not clear how to follow the scenario of a voluntary settlement. There are certain procedural limitations, as there is already a suspicion notice in place. So far, in Ukraine, it seems to me, there is no such practice, and it will have to be developed if it comes to this."
Nevertheless, the Deposit Guarantee Fund is ready to implement the idea of a contractual settlement of VAB Bank debt: "The Fund is ready for such steps. Besides, the possibility of peaceful settlements is laid out in the bill, which, I hope, Parliament will pass in the coming months. The need for such a legislative option has been approved by the IMF and WB. I'd add that the best international practice on a voluntary settlement operates in the U.S. And now we have a team of advisers from FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation of the United States), who are experts precisely on voluntary settlement and have dealt dozens of such cases at home. They help us prepare the implementation of best practices."
Recall that the NABU opened a case into the alleged misuse of the stabilization loan provided by the National Bank to Oleg Bakhmatyuk's VAB Bank. The National Bank has already denied allegations, proving that the entire refinancing amount, UAH 1.2 billion, was allocated for payments to 80,000 depositors, as the program suggested.