Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

DUTCH BANK GIANT BRISTLES AGAINST UBB

The Sofia Regional Court has rejected the civil action laid by the Dutch citizen Kornelis van Seiderweld, who claims that United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) should give him back USD1MN. The magistrates' ruling was announced in the middle of the week, but the Dutchman will most probably lay an appeal against it at the Sofia Court of Appeal. This lawsuit is only a part of the complicated court procedures going on in connection with the attempted USD4MN fraud, disclosed by the Bulgarian specialized services four years ago. The money has been drained from the Dutch bank giant IBN AMRO and remitted with faked paymemt orders to the bank deposit in UBB of Korneliz van Sanderweld, who lives in the Bulgarian town of Shoumen. In the beginning of September 1998 he and seven more foreign citizens tried to take out of the country about USD1.6MN when passing through the Sofia Airport, but were detained by the customs authorities. Investigation began on the case and the eight foreigners were accused of committing a customs violation. Legal proceedings against them have been going on since mid-1999 in the Sofia Regional Court. However, the hearing of the case has been postponed on various reasons for a third year now.The history of this scam, dating back four years ago, is now about to fire an international financial scandal. IBN AMRO, for example, has already considerably cooled off it relations with UBB due to these USD4MN. Back in October 1998 the Dutch judiciary insisted for the extradition of Kornelis van Seiderweld, against whom legal proeedings for fraud were instituted in Amsterdam.Meanwhile, IBN AMRO demanded back its money from the Bulgarian Finance Ministry, in whose accounts in BULBANK and BNB are deposited USD2.85MN, confiscated from Kornelis van Seiderweld and his partners, and from UBB where there is another USD1MN, deposited by the Dutchman. But a distraint on the latter amount has been laid by the prosecutor's office in connection with the lawsuit against the criminal group.According to the lawyers of the Dutch bank, the documents presented in the action against Kornelis van Seiderweld prove thatthe USD4MN are owned by IBN AMROand more precisely by its client - the Amsterdam-based notary's office Caron Stevens/Backer McKenzy, from whose deposit the money were drained with faked documents. In addition, according to article 20, item 2 of the European Convention on Extradition (signed by Bulgaria as well), the things acquired from the crime have to be handed over the country, demanding the extradition.In the spring of 2000 the Sofia Regional court refused to hear IBN AMRO's demand for lifting the distraint on the stolen money and returning it to the Dutch bank. But in the autumn of the same year the judge from the Sofia City Court Anton Stankov, who is the incumbent Minister of Justice, rescinded the ruling of the regional magistrates and ordered the distraint on the money, found in the criminal group, to be lifted. On April 4, 2001 his decision was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Cassation. According to the lawyers of IBN AMRO all these facts and circumstances prove that the money should be given back to the Dutch bank. In the end of 2001BULBANK remitted to IBN AMRO USD1.6MNThis is the money, found in Kornelis van Seiderweld and his partners at the Sofia Airport. The Dutch bank presented to the Bulgarian credit intitution a special guarantee letter, undertaking to return the money if on hearing the punitive action against Kornelis van Seiderweld the court decides that the USD4MN should be confiscated. Thus, BULBANK succeeded to find a wise solution to the problem. It kept its good relations with IBN AMRO and received a guarantee that it won't suffer loses if the court decides that the state should confiscate the money, found in Kornelis van Seiderweld and the other defendants. Unlike BULBANKUBB has flatly refused to give back USD1MNto the Dutch bank. Asked by the BANKER weekly about the reasons for that refusal, UBB answered that the money in an account with the bank was deposited by Kornelis van Seiderweld and not by IBN AMRO. UBB specified that while legal proceedings are still going on, the bank could not fulfill IBN AMRO's requirement and remit it the USD1MN. According to UBB's lawyers, if the bank gives this money back, it takes the risk of effecting a payment to an unauthorized creditor. The lawyers claim it is possible that the court decided that the fraudulently acquired money should be confiscated and in that case UBB would have to remit another USD1MN, this time to the State. UBB's lawyers underlined that in addition to the punitive action against Kornelis van Seiderweld there was one more lawsuit on the case. This isthe claim laid by the Dutchmanagainst the UBB, demanding his money back. On April 24 the Sofia Regional Court finished the listening of the sides on the case and is expected to come out with a decision in the beginning of June.UBB's lawyers said that the USD1MN will remain blocked in its accounts till the legal proceedings on the two lawsuits are concluded. The Dutch from IBN AMRO are not at all happy with this stance of their Bulgarian colleagues as they are aware that proceedings at law in Bulgaria might drag on for about a dozen of years. They have been demanding their money from UBB since October 2001, but the Bulgarian credit institution is uncompromising. Nevertheless, IBN AMRO's lawyers are helping their colleagues from UBB in the action, instituted by Kornelis van Seiderweld against the Bulgarian credit institution. But this doesn't mean that the Dutch have given up their intention to get their money from UBB as soon as possible. According to the lawyers of IBN AMRO, by its activities UBB ignores the court decisions, including that of the Supreme Court of Cassation. They claim their client's patience will be soon exhausted and it may claim its money from UBB through court.

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