Latest Headlines

Alpha Bank on the back foot

Alpha Bank Cyprus has written to a number of their clients offering to assist them to continue repaying their obligations to the Bank or to fully settle the loan with a significant discount.

Cyprus home buyers sue Alpha Bank A NUMBER of Christofi Law Clients have received letters from Alpha Bank, headed “without prejudice”, offering to restructure their loans.

The bank writes that it does so because of the “global crisis” and the proposal is intended to assist its customers either to continue to pay off their existing obligations or to allow them to “fully settle the loan” through what the bank describes as “a work out loan in Euro or Sterling”.

The letter goes on to outline that they are prepared to discount “a significant amount” for full and final settlement.

The letter requires a response by 18 October mentioning that new agreements will have to be entered into, which they describe as “formalities” (presumably a waiver of any existing claims). It is not clear what the significance of the deadline is, but the deadline is very close to the limitation period for issuing proceedings coming to an end for most mis-sold mortgages in Cyprus (December 2013 ). The reference so close to limitation raises the issue of whether the letters are intended to lull people into missing the issue deadlines.

Of course it is also possible that Alpha Bank are on the back foot and have realised that a substantial percentage of its loan portfolio may be declared unenforceable given the number of challenges that have been raised.

Christofi Law have encouraged one client to write back and see what the bank has on offer and will report in more detail in due course. If the bank proposal is genuine, those who have signed up with representatives who offer a proposal based on a percentage of loan saved might sensibly want to bypass their representative to go direct to the bank and see what the bank has to offer. In which case people are reminded to head up their letters with a protective “without prejudice”.

Text of letter sent to Christofi Law clients:

Dear Customer

Loan granted by Alpha Bank Cyprus Ltd (HE923) of Chilonos & Gladstonos Corner, Stylianos Lenas Square, 1101, Nicosia to XXX with loan account number commencing with the numbers XX and ending with the numbers XXX for the initial amount of CHF XXX-(the ‘Loan’).

The Bank, acknowledging the global economic crisis and its consequences on individual households, has decided as a gesture of good will and in order to facilitate you in meeting your repayment obligations to the Bank, to offer to you, for a limited period of time, a scheme that will assist you to either:

(a) continue repaying your obligations to the Bank, or

(b) allow you to fully settle the Loan.

The options available under the scheme are briefly outlined below:

1. Discounting of a significant amount on the current outstanding balance of the Loan and re-financing of the Loan through a new work-out loan in Euro or Pound Sterling to be granted to you by the Bank.

2. Discounting of a significant amount on the current outstanding balance of the Loan for full and final settlement of the Loan, through your own means.

We are available for further details regarding the above. We firmly believe that with the Bank’s support and your co-operation, your selection of either option, will, upon the completion of the formalities required by the Bank, assist you in either fully and finally settling your obligations to the Bank under the Loan or in rearranging your obligations to the Bank under the Loan, with the added benefit of a substantial discount to the sums due by you under the Loan.

To take advantage of this scheme and for further assistance in this matter please contact Mr Christos Koumas at Larnaca Foreign Citizens Housing Loans Department, contact number tel: 00357-24824419, e-mail address: Housing.Foreign.Larnaca@alphabank.com.cy, by 18th October 2013 at the latest.

This letter is sent to you without prejudice and in full reservation of the rights of the Bank. It is further clarified that any arrangement in the above context will be subject to the final approval of the Bank and to the execution of any new and/or additional and/or supplemental documents which the Bank considers necessary.

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • Mark says:

    @Russ

    It was via a solicitor. We had a buyer on an apartment but that’s irrelevant if you want to settle the loan. I still had to contribute a big chunk.

    In my opinion Banks are prepared to negotiate big reductions but generally want the capital back.

    I did this on 2 loans.

  • Russ says:

    Hi Mark,
    Did you approach the bank yourself to arrange settlement or go via a representative like judicare etc.

  • Mark says:

    When we settled with Emporiki they did give us a significant discount. I’m not sure if it was a coincidence but the discount was equivalent to the accumulated interest (which was considerable due to missed payments, exchange rates etc) they wouldn’t budge any further on this. So we ended up paying back the capital element.

  • Russ says:

    Any one written to Alpha Bank yet?

    At the moment I am deciding whether to sign up with a representative.This could be a foot in the door to go it alone.

    Also it could save a lot of time on re arranging our loans and fees!

    Depends on their vision of “significant discount” it could be very different to mine.

  • Richard says:

    @Andrew – you are spot on. It’s becoming common knowledge now that the Bank For International Settlements in Switzerland controls most of the rules governing other banks – so the whole system across the western world is in crisis – not just with the Greeks and the Cypriots (it’s broken first there because the corruption is so extreme and the negligence so large.

    The E.U turned a blind eye for as long as people didn’t mutiny – but now they are – because we are all waking up to the facts.

    Everyone soon will demand fairer treatment from lending organisations & transparency from regulatory authorities (be it within the industry or at government level).

    That won’t be easy – as governments are effectively controlled by the banks – look a few years ago in the UK at Mr Brown Mr Darling’s futile attempts to “take a tough line with the banks”. Pure grandstanding. The BoE (Bank of England) are a privately owned concern (which is not common knowledge) – so re-engineering the influence model and making new processes happen – both in UK, Cyprus, Ireland, Spain et al – will most likely be done by the initiative and drive of the private sector.

    That’s down to trading your way out of trouble – rather than public spending your way into it. The latter practice being something 90% of western governments excel at.

    If common sense is returning – hoorah – about time!

    I still see these banks mind as a wounded animal – and therefore – the most dangerous animals of all….

  • Andrew says:

    @Pete.It appears that the world allows many unjustices to go unpunished in this region. In the event that this Government sponsored scam is allowed, then I can see no reason why the EU should exist. This is attempted robbery by deceit on a national level.

  • Pete says:

    In reference to Andrew’s question below, Alpha bank have already applied to the land registry to sell up to 230 properties built by Liasides Developers.

    Over a period of around 4 years Alpha bank granted Liasides 7 loans even though no repayments had been made. One of these loans was for 1 million euros at a time when the bank knew, or should have known, the company was in financial difficulty. Indeed, the company was used as guarantor for the loan which effectively meant the buyers homes were used as collateral without their knowledge or consent.
    This one fact alone cries out for investigation.

    At a “creditors” meeting in February this year a liquidator was appointed and he suggested the buyers take out loans to repay the loans Liasides didn’t repay. He also said the tax man in Cyprus was very unreasonable and the buyers would have to settle Liasides tax bill if there was to be any chance of getting title deeds.

    The Official Receiver in Cyprus does not consider the buyers to be “creditors” therefore not one single purchaser was informed of any meeting. This means that although they were excluded from any and all decision making they will still have to pay the liquidators fees.

    So, the buyers are being asked to take out a loan (from Alpha bank?) to repay a loan to Alpha bank they never had in the first place.

    To date Alpha bank have chosen to ignore the guarantors of the various loans.

    The liquidator has said he will not investigate the ‘dealings’ at Alpha bank.

    The same liquidator also acts for Alpha bank as their receiver.

  • Andrew says:

    How will the banks react to developer mortgages. Will the try to extort money from innocent home buyers who have already paid their developer in full. Most home buyers have had no dealings whatsoever with these banks and had no prior knowledge of any developer mortgage on their land.

  • Gary says:

    Any ideas on how the remaining banks will react with regard to foreign loan mortgages?

  • Robert Briggs says:

    Since these homebuyers are standing up for justice. It looks as if the powers that be at the Alpha Bank have blinked first?

  • Greg Gregory says:

    Notice that in the sentence ‘……….your obligations to the Bank under the Loan or…..’ The words ‘Terms and Conditions’ are omitted. Could it be that mention or reminder of these standard words and reference to them actually prejudices them or weakens their case?. I wonder. It does sound like a desperate last ditched attempt letter.

  • Martyn says:

    This looks like an increasingly worried bank attempting some last minute ‘ducking n diving’ before it likely finds itself with a massive portfolio of ‘unenforceable’ debt – big enough for it potentially to become, in Cyprus anyway, the Omega bank. Hallmarks are the extremely short period of time allowed to their ‘selected’ borrowers and the ‘contact us for further details’ ploy. The Dilemma for recipients of the Bank’s offer – issued solely it seems because of the ‘global economic crisis’ HA! will be to negotiate the best deal they can, or to wait – how long? – before their debts have to be written off by the bank. Hmmm, certainly wouldn’t like to be forced into a rushed decision on this one myself!!

  • The views expressed in readers' comments are not necessarily shared by the Cyprus Property News.

SELECTED REPORTS

Back to top