Summed up

  • 2000-05-25
BANKS OF THE BALTICS: The London-based Central European
magazine named Vilniaus Bankas the best domestic bank in Lithuania in
its April issue. Latvia's Unibanka and Estonia's Hansapank were named
the best banks in their countries, while the Scandinavian bank Swedbank
was voted the best foreign bank operating in the Baltic states.
Vilniaus Bankas' profit rose by 24 percent to 74.2 million litas
($18.55 million), assets grew by more than one-fifth, and the loan
portfolio increased by nearly a third last year despite the after
effects of the Russian crisis, according to the report.

BIG BOSS RETIRES: Lithuanian Social Security Minister
Irena Degutiene on May 18, accepted the resignation of the national
social insurance fund SODRA's board chairman, Vincas Kunca, and passed
on his letter of resignation to the government for approval. The
Cabinet of Ministers is expected to discuss it at its next regular
meeting. The chairman of the Sodra executive board is appointed and
dismissed by the government. Kunca handed in his resignation after a
meeting with Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius May 16 where Sodra's
financial situation was discussed and found to be unsatisfactory and
causing the government concern. Kunca failed to propose any measures to
improve the fund's administration and tax collection at the meeting,
Degutiene said. Sodra's budget deficit soared to 159 million litas
($9.75 million) in the first quarter of this year. The fund's heads
said during the meeting that the gap could widen to some 260 million
litas by the end of the year.

NO MORE SECRETS: The Estonian parliament amended the
banking secrets article of the Credit Institutions Act May 13,
extending, among other things, the rights of taxation officials and
bailiffs to inspect banking records. The act lays down a regulation
opening banking secrets to the tax authority. Under the new law,
insurance and securities supervisory bodies are entitled to receive
information necessary to carry out supervision. Access to banking
records is granted to holders of economic interest declarations. A new
article has been added to the act, stipulating the principle by which
information about a client's payment discipline is not regarded as

Estonia supervisory board on May 14 named Kalev Kukk and Mart Opmann as
candidates for president of Bank of Estonia. The Bank of Estonia
supervisory board was to elect a candidate on May 25 to be endorsed by
President Lennart Meri. On May 17, the central bank's supervisory board
received submissions of their CVs and views concerning guidance of the
Estonian finance and banking policy and the Bank of Estonia. Asked for
a comment on the candidates, acting Bank of Estonia president Peter
Lohmus said both were "capable chaps," but declined further comment.

VIRUS LOVES LATTELEKOM: The Latvian telecommunications
company was infected with the virus "I love you" on May 4. At 11:15
a.m. the virus had reached Lattelekom's systems and within half an hour
the virus had been identified and computer experts began eradicating
it. The only harm the virus had done was to shut down the e-mail
system. The company had installed the latest anti-virus computer
programs but still the computer virus found a way into the system.

IN WITH THE NEW, OUT WITH THE OLD: Latvia's Hansabanka has
installed a new Internet banking system. Hansabanka was one of the
first Latvian banks to introduce Internet banking. To keep up with the
fast development of the computer industry and renew its Internet
banking service, starting on May 8, clients of the bank have free
access to the service 24 hours a day. The bank is confident the new
service will save clients time by making use of their home or work

LPA ACCUSED: Latvia's Oil Transport Company, Latvijas
Nafta Tranzits, has released information that the Latvian Privatization
Agency's bid to sell 5 percent and 7 percent of Ventspils Nafta is
illegal. LNT said an agreement between LNT and the LPA signed in 1997
states that without LNT approval, no action can be undertaken at VN and
the company La Sam without its consent. The Latvian government did not
consult LNT before deciding to sell VN shares, LNT said. LNT has
invested considerable amounts of funds into VN and it will take legal
action if the Latvian government does not uphold the agreement
previously signed. LNT is very serious and will do whatever is needed
in Latvia's court system to look after its interests, the company said
in a press release.