RIB Owners Accuse National Bank of Harassment

Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 16 aprilie 2004

Daniel Roberts, the president and majority shareholder of Romanian International Bank (RIB) has sent a document to several State institutions saying that The National Bank has been putting uninterrupted pressure on RIB to determine him to pull out from this business. Roberts, who took over the bank in May 2002, claims that, last year, he asked The National Bank for permission to change the bank's name into "American National Bank" but permission was denied on the count that the name could not include the word "National." Moreover, he claims that The National Bank later denied a similar request over the word "American." In reply, Nicolae Cinteza, head of The Supervisory Department of The National Bank, told "Bursa:" "The law clearly stipulates that the bank names must be in Romanian, with the exception of the Romanian branches of foreign banks. RIB is held by individuals so the exception does not apply. Moreover, the inclusion of the word "American' in the bank's name could have created confusion among the public, who might have thought that The U.S. was behind this bank. This was the case of "The Turkish - Romanian Bank, of which people thought it was a bank jointly controlled by The Turkish State and The Romanian State."

To back his claims, Daniel Roberts exemplified with a couple of banks operating in Romania: National Bank of Greece and Commercial Bank of Greece (currently known as Emporiki Bank Romania SA). Cinteza replied: "These banks are branches of foreign banks and, under the law, have been authorized to use the name of the parent bank." Roberts accused The National Bank of harassing RIB through very frequent audits. "Last year, The National Bank audited RIB three times. Two of the audits were performed upon request from The Prosecutor's Office, because several companies had laundered money through this bank. The third audit was the regular annual audit," Cinteza said.

Romanian International Bank was established in 1998. In the autumn of 2002, The Turkish State, represented by The Turkish Bank Deposit Guarantee Fund, took over Sumerbank AS, which held 99.77 percent in RIB. Daniel Roberts and his Romanian wife later took over the stake originally held by Sumerbank in RIB. Roberts also holds 85 percent in Merchants Bank of California, which, according to him, has been for the past six years the most profitable bank of the approximately 5,000 US banks with assets under 100 million USD. Roberts is also the owner of Digital Company Services, a non-banking financial organization operating in Los Angeles.

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