Monday, October 8, 2012

Burmese Central Bank official says private banks are stable

Monday, 08 October 2012 12:37 Kyaw Phone Kyaw, Myat Kyaw Thu and Theingi Tun

Mizzima (Rangoon) – An official of the Central Bank has assured depositors that Burmese privately owned banks are financially sound after rumours spread last week causing higher withdrawals than normal from one bank.

The central bank official quickly shot down the rumors as false.

The vice chairman of Kanbawza Bank, Burma's biggest private bank, Than Lwin, speaks to reporters at the Myanmar Bank Association in Rangoon on Oct. 6, 2012. Myanmar banking officials have sought to reassure nervous depositors after rumours prompted high numbers of customers to withdraw funds. Customers  pulled out around nine billion kyat (US$10.5 million) on Oct. 5, more than four times the amount that would normally be expected. Photo: AFP

“Privately owned banks are under ‘systematic supervision’ of the Central Bank of Myanmar. They operate businesses in compliance with regulations and laws. The citizens can trust all the privately owned banks and deposit money,” said Win Thaw, the deputy director of the Central Bank (Rangoon Branch). 

On Oct. 5, various rumours about reliability of the Kanbawza Bank caused depositors to make withdrawals from their bank accounts at a higher than normal rate.

However, Kanbawza Bank’s managing director Moe Aung San said that the number of people was higher because the bank was closed on Oct. 1.

“The bank was closed on October 1; so [in that week], the days that the bank was open were October 2, 3, 4 and 5. The number of customers is high [because] they had fewer days, so the number of customers was high. That is ‘normal transactions.’ Our Kanbawza is a reliable company. It is the largest and strongest bank [in Burma]. There is no reason at all not to trust the bank,” he told Mizzima.

Customers interviewed by Mizzima correspondents said they had no specific information that caused them to withdraw money, but had heard rumours.

A 50-year-old woman who made withdrawals at the Kanbawza Bank (Shwegondine branch) in Rangoon, said, “I came here to make withdrawals because I heard many rumours. Now, I took all of my money out of my bank account.”

At the Myaynigon branch on Friday afternoon at the bank’s closing time about six people in front of the bank requested a bank employee to let them enter the bank to make withdrawals; the bank security staff told them to be calm.

“I came to make withdrawals because I heard that the bank would go bankrupt,” said one customer. “Earlier, we deposited money at this bank because we heard that it owned airplanes and football stadiums. Now, I’ll take all of my money out of the bank account.”

The customers were unable to explain where and how the rumours started.

Thet Lwin Shwe, the deputy managing director at the Asia Green Development Bank, said, “Some people asked about Kanbawza Bank. I think they were false rumours. They are not people who will do wrong. All banks are reliable.”

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