The Romanian Commercial Bank (BCR) has proposed to shareholders the distribution of dividends of 228.12 million lei, out of the profit of 570 million lei, for last year, this being the first year with such an item on the agenda of the General Shareholder Meeting, after the huge loss of 2014, of 2.6 billion lei, caused by the high provisions and the sale of non-performing loans.
The BCR group saw its net profit fall by 36.11%, last year compared to 2016, from over 1 billion lei to approximately 668 million lei, according to the press releases of the bank. Individually, BCR had a profit of 570.3 million lei in 2017, down 36%.
After 2014, BCR returned to profitability in 2015, but year after year, the earnings were used to cover up the previous loss.
This year, BCR is proposing for the General Shareholder Meeting of April 25th, for an amount of 121.03 million lei out of the profit of 2017 to be used for covering the loss remaining from 2014, and 221.15 million lei to be transferred to the carried over profit, to be used according to the bank's business strategy.
Even though BCR reported, according to the press releases posted on its own website, a net profit in three of the last six years (in 2011 - 70.9 million lei, in 2013 - 591.2 million lei, in 2015 - 918.9 million lei and in 2016 - 1.045 billion lei), the fiscal situation, presented in a document obtained by BURSA and published in August 2017, indicates significant losses (which can go as high as 3 billion lei, in 2014) in all the six years of the 2011-2016 period.
At the time, the Romanian Commercial Bank maintained that the statement that BCR has not paid any profit taxes between 2011 and 2016 "remains deeply incorrect", mentioning: "In this interval, BCR paid in advance to the state budget 161 million lei representing profit taxes, in compliance with the provisions of the Fiscal Code. BCR paid in advance profit tax in each of the last two years".
We do remind, however, that the fiscal law requires banks to pay taxes in advance. The Fiscal Code states, in art. Art.41 (4): "Lenders - Romanian legal entities and the Romanian branches of credit institutions - foreign legal entities - have the obligation to declare and pay profit taxes yearly, with advance payments made quarterly".
Tax experts in the sector and the representatives of the Ministry of Finance consulted by BURSA told us that at the end of the year, the adjustment of the profit tax gets performed, which is when the losses from the previous years are subtracted and the banks can continue to post losses, in which they case they will no longer pay taxes.
Thus, the fact that BCR has paid an early profit tax does not invalidate the fiscal situation which indicates constant losses over the last few years.
Adina Ardeleanu (translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)