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Erste Group CEO: Clients Would Like Bankers Hang

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07 Sep 2010 - 00:00
The loss of credibility with their clients, which bankers experience internationally, came to new heights in recent months and weeks, as one bank leader put it: "For a while now, people wanted bankers publicly humiliated and having stones hurled at them. Lately, they will settle for a quick execution with hanging them by the neck," Erste Group CEO Andreas Treichl said. Erste Group controls the Romanian Commercial Bank, or BCR.

"I believe we should really think about it: why are we blamed so much and why people want see us suffer,"Treichl said.
He pointed out, however, that public opinion should make the difference between the investment banks in the USA and Great Britain, which caused the downfall in the overall public image of the banking sector, and the banks that stuck to the classical business model in the banking industry, namely attracting deposits, on the one hand, and giving credits, on the other.

"It is unfair to hold accountable all banks, along the investment banks which caused the recent crisis," Treichl said, adding that bankers have worse public image today than the politicians used to.

The bad reputation the banking industry has internationally is validated these past days in Romania with the scandal irrupting around the commercial banks' policy regarding interest rates they change unilaterally. Disgruntled clients organized in online communities and are threatening to file law suits against the banks' practice, which they deem to be abusive.

Treichel is well-known for his outspoken style. Two months ago he said it was a terrible shame that Romania was unable to draft the 35 million Euro ear-marked in Brussels for Romanian projects, and that the Romanian Government was doing nothing towards steering the country out of the economic crisis. He concluded that he was unable to understand what was really going on in Bucharest.

"I may not be able to fully understand Romanian, but I know that Romania was one of the few European states that had a true chance to get out of crisis in better shape that it entered it. But it failed to use the opportunities, and now there is no other EU member state in such a bad shape. The president and the Executive should find ways to work together and show people that they have things under control," Treichl said then.

He also added that big commercial banks and foreign corporations active in Romania are ready to help the Executive with a plan to turn around the economy. "Our CEO in Bucharest along BCR experts have worked to many such proposals, but nothing is going on further. This Executive is missing one opportunity after another, and I cannot understand why. This Executive has more business people in it than many other governments in Europe, they are well-educated, not stupid people, and yet - they do nothing."
He concluded that he loved Romania and BCR, the Erste Bank splinter bank there, and that he was in shock over the dramatic situation the country is confronted with.
Translated by AAP
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