Re: Only Scythians are allowed to collect scalps.. *LINK*
Posted By: karibkween In Response To: Re: Only Scythians are allowed to collect scalps.. *LINK* (karibkween)
Date: Wednesday, 8 December 2010, at 6:23 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Only Scythians are allowed to collect scalps.. *LINK* (karibkween)
By DAN MOLINSKI
CARACAS—President Hugo Chávez threatened to take control over the local unit of Spanish bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA and other large financial institutions if they don't ensure that homes and apartments they finance are occupied immediately.
Mr. Chávez, who has brought his own brand of socialism to Venezuela, has nationalized more than 200 companies this year from various sectors of the economy.
While Mr. Chávez has threatened to expropriate large banks in the past if they don't increase loans to small-business owners and prospective home buyers, this time he is increasing the pressure publicly to show his concern for the lack of sufficient housing for Venezuela's 28 million people.
The issue has plagued this oil-rich nation for decades, and during Mr. Chávez's nearly 12 years in office the growth in population has exacerbated the housing shortage. In Caracas and other large cities, millions of people are forced to live in slums made of shoddily constructed, ramshackle homes on hillsides.
Some of the heaviest rains and flooding in the past 40 years in Venezuela have made the problem worse—about 100,000 people have seen their homes destroyed or deemed unlivable.
"Any bank that slips up…I'm going to expropriate it, whether it's [BBVA] Banco Provincial, or [local banks] Banesco or Banco Nacional de Crédito," Mr. Chávez said Tuesday night.
In many cases, Mr. Chávez said banks receive a down payment from new homeowners for a house or apartment but then delay the move-in process using "legal mumbo jumbo" and require more paperwork to be filled out.
"If the apartment is ready to move in, then it must be occupied immediately," Mr. Chávez warned.
An official at BBVA Banco Provincial's media office in Caracas, who asked not to be named, said Wednesday that the bank believes Mr. Chávez's comments were aimed at banks in Venezuela in general, and that he wasn't singling out BBVA.
Representatives at Banco Nacional de Crédito and Banesco weren't immediately available for comment.
The president's comments about BBVA Banco Provincial comes just days after a former vice president to Mr. Chávez, José Vicente Rangel, said sources have told him BBVA's Venezuela unit is for sale with a price tag of $2 billion.
The bank repeatedly denied the claims by Mr. Rangel, who is now a journalist and the host of Sunday morning political talk show, where he made the remarks.
"We reiterate our permanent commitment in Venezuela," the BBVA Group said Sunday in a statement on its blog, in response to Mr. Rangel's latest claim.
BBVA Banco Provincial has been in Venezuela for 11 years and is among its largest banks in terms of deposits held.
Venezuela's banking system went through a mini-crisis a year ago, when Mr. Chávez took over a handful of small banks, nationalizing or liquidating them and jailing several bank executives. The takeovers didn't extend to the big banks, and analysts say the country's overall financial system is relatively healthy.
A Venezuela banking-reform bill now wending its way through the Chávez-controlled legislature would declare that banking activity and banking services are a public service, which some analysts say would make them "expropriatable" companies.
Write to Dan Molinski at Dan.Molinski@dowjones.com
Chavez doing what Obama wont?
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