Moldova's Central Bank specifies on bonds issued by Gov't to return bad-loan debt

Moldova has issued government bonds worth 13.34 billion lei ($672 million/601 million euro) to repay state-guaranteed emergency loans extended by the central bank, BNM, to three troubled commercial banks, BNM said on Friday.

Moldova has been trying to cope with a major banking crisis since November 2014, when about $1 billion went missing from three of the country's private banks. The sum was equivalent to about 16% of the impoverished ex-Soviet state's 2015 gross domestic product. The banks - Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank - collapsed and were liquidated.

"Government bonds in the total amount of 13,341,200,000 lei have been issued and transferred to the National Bank on 4 October 2016. This is the amount of emergency loans granted by the central bank to Banca de Economii, Banca Socială and Unibank, which have not been repaid on the date of the government bonds' issuance," BNM said in a press release.

The amount was divided into 25 government bond issues, with maturities from 1 to 25 years, it added.

The government bonds maturing in 1 to 9 years were issued with a fixed annual interest rate of 1.4%, while those maturing in 10 to 25 years bear a fixed annual interest rate of 5.3%. Interest will be paid semi-annually, excluding the payment for the first year after issuance, which will be paid at the end of the year.

BNM also said it had assumed annual inflation rate of 5% in its calculations when it established the effective interest rate of each of the issues.

"Thus, the effective interest rate for the aforementioned issues, determined at the inflation target level, will allow to keep in real terms the value of debt at the time of bonds' issuance," the bank added.

Moldova's consumer price inflation cooled to a 14-month low of 3.6% year-on-year in August from 7% in July, according to the latest data available from the country's statistics office, BNS.

In March, Moldova's finance ministry announced its intention to launch the bond issues on April 1. According to business news website Moldstreet, the finance ministry held an informal meeting with bankers to promote the bond issues but most of them were not interested.

BNM said last month that the second phase of the independent investigation of the disappearance of $1 billion from the three banks had uncovered some $600 million dissipated in overseas jurisdictions.

The first phase of the investigation indicated that companies and individuals tied to businessman Ilan Shor had taken control of the three banks during the period 2012-2014 and then allegedly issued massive loans to companies affiliated with Shor, SEE NEWS reports.

(1 euro = 22.202 Moldovan lei)

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