Tajikistan: Year After Bank Fails, Depositors Still Can’t Get Cash

Despite President Rahmon's promises, savers have gotten only a one-off payment of around $2,000 apiece.

One year since a mid-sized bank in Tajikistan collapsed, savers have barely any of their cash back despite promises from the country’s president that nobody would be left out of pocket. 

After Tojprombank was liquidated last February 24, the state-run Savings Deposit Fund paid out 17,500 somoni (around $2,000) to each customer, but little else.

In defiance of the heavy hand usually reserved for anybody expressing open discontent with the authorities in Tajikistan, one defrauded saver, Solehamo Samadova, has been leading a group of fellow disgruntled depositors in petitioning the National Bank of Tajikistan, the Finance Ministry, parliament and Deputy Prime Minister Davlati Saidov for assistance.

“Unfortunately, over the course of the year, nothing has changed. A couple of times they paid us sums of 1,000 somoni, but now they have stopped doing even that. Everybody keeps talking about how the banks have been paid back such-and-such amount [by their debtors], but we see nothing,” Samadova told Eurasianet.

Tojprombank bank’s administrators have indeed been scraping together some assets.

After depositors addressed their grievances to Saidov, the deputy PM, a businessman involved in the cotton industry, Jamshed Abdulov, was detained. Two companies belonging to him – Cotton Textile and Olim Textile – collectively owed Tojprombank 39 million somoni ($4.4 million). After paying off his liabilities in the form of solid assets, Abdulov was released on bail.

Another debtor who was picked up by the authorities was Ilhom Sharbatov, better known by his nickname Ilhom Komandir. He owed 13.9 million somoni ($1.5 million). Another businessman, Turabek Kanoatov, who owed Tojprombank $826,000, faced the same treatment.

The former head of Tojprombank, Jamshed Ziyoyev, is currently said to be busy selling off assets to help raise money for his clients.

President Emomali Rahmon pledged in his annual address to the nation in December 2016 that every last Tojprombank customer would get their money back.

During a press conference in January, General Prosecutor Yusuf Rahmon said that in 2017, prosecutors assisted the country’s banks in reclaiming 1.35 billion somoni ($154 million) worth of previously unreturned debts.

Asia-Plus new website, meanwhile, has reported that the volume of personal savings accounts not yet restored to Tojprombank depositors has shrunk from 300 million somoni ($34 million) to 90 million somoni ($11 million) in 2017. Although those figures ostensibly reflect well on Tojprombank’s progress, Samadova is skeptical. 

“We don’t know where these figures are from, but in my opinion this is just being done as a formality and to tick boxes. I have about 100 people in my [depositors’] committee, and they are still without their money,” she said.

Tojprombank also owes the Finance Ministry 117 million somoni ($13 million) and the National Bank around 132 million somoni ($15 million). Under Tajik law, banks are required to address their liabilities to state bodies before paying back private depositors.

It is an even more grievous story at other lenders. According to National Bank data from November 29, Agroinvestbank owes in depositors around 700 million somoni ($79.5 million), while TojikSodirotBank owes 904 million somoni ($102 million).

Tajikistan: Year After Bank Fails, Depositors Still Can’t Get Cash

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