ATF Bank, a unit of UniCredit SpA, dismissed accusations from the central bank that managers may have contributed to speculation of a devaluation in the tenge by advising clients to buy dollars.
“ATF Bank bought dollars yesterday only at its clients’ requests,” Chief Executive Officer Alexander Picker said today in a telephone interview from Almaty. “It’s difficult to say why clients asked to buy, maybe there was a panic spurred by the rumors about devaluation. ATF Treasury didn’t spread such a rumor.”
Central bank Governor Grigori Marchenko told reporters yesterday bankers at ATF, Halyk Savings Bank, Kazakhstan’s third-largest lender, and Eurasian Bank had advised clients to buy dollars and that “managers must be punished by these banks.”
Kazakhstan has defended the tenge since its 21 percent devaluation in February even as the central Asian nation’s financial crisis forced the government to seize control of BTA Bank, the biggest lender, and spend more than $5 billion to prop up the economy and banking system.
“Many clients came to us asking to buy dollars despite our efforts to persuade them the tenge will not be devalued,” Picker said. “The trend is that even state-run companies want to keep their money in dollars.”
ATF bought $45.5 million of dollars yesterday out of the $427.3 million traded on the stock exchange, according to Picker.
“For us it could be lethal to speculate against the tenge as this leads to a decrease in tenge deposits,” he said.
By Nariman Gizitdinov