Politicians call for tightening savings and loans funds requirements

General meeting of the now-defunct Estonia Savings and Loan Association.
General meeting of the now-defunct Estonia Savings and Loan Association. Source: ERR

The recent bankruptcy of a savings fund and the disappearance of around €16 million has once again raised the issue of the need to impose stricter control over the activities of such cooperatives, politicians from three parties told ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) Tuesday.

Educating the public about investing should also be improved so that those who want to do so do not end up making bad choices, AK reported.

Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and former finance minister Martin Helme told AK: "The intention to develop a law remained in an earlier period and created a bill for us, as a result of which the entire business of savings and loan cooperatives in Estonia would have come to an end, because such a large regulatory burden would have been imposed on them," said Helme.

An amendment to legislation relating to savings and loan cooperatives has been planned for over two years, but the draft finalized in October 2020 and signed by Helme when he was finance minister has since stalled.

Riigikogu Finance Committee chair and former justice minister Maris Lauri (Reform) told AK that better supervisory process could also be put in place.

She said: "We can also establish supervision based on other characteristics, for example, if an advertisement is spotted which contains implausible information, such as extremely high interest rates," adding that pyramid schemes, whereby the victim initially sees a good return on investment only to be disappointed later, were another example.

Helme told AK that such outfits represented out-and-out fraud.

Vice-chair of the same committee and former public administration minister Jaak Aab (Center) told AK that: "Perhaps savings and loan cooperatives should also contribute to a guarantee fund, so that if anything happens, a certain proportion of a person's deposits are guaranteed, just as is the case with banks. For example, so far as I am aware, deposits in banks are guaranteed up to €100,000, and no matter what happens to this bank, it will be paid out."

In the latest case, the bankrupt Estonia Development Savings and Loan Association (Eesti Arengu Hoiu- ja laenuühistu).

This has caused the finance ministry to look at legislative amendments again, which may include a guarantee fund requirement as noted above, and better, though not too bureaucratic, regulation, such as by the FSA (Finantsinspektsioon)

Those contributing to savings funds should be able to better see where their money was going, Helme added.

The Estonian Development Savings and Loan Association filed for bankruptcy last month, leaving 1,000 customers poised to lose investments totaling €16 million. One of the associations high-profile clients was MEP and Foreign Minister Urmas Paet (Reform) who invested a reported €50,000 with the association. The cooperative had offered 10 percent interest at a time when most banks were offering negligible amounts.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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