* Prime Minister says fund will present plan within 10 days
* Previous rescue efforts derailed by political backdrop
(Adds detail, background)
By Angel Krasimirov
SOFIA, Aug 20 An unidentified fund based in
Vienna has expressed interest in rescuing Bulgaria's Corporate
Commercial Bank (Corpbank) and will present its plan
within 10 days, Bulgaria's Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki said
The fate of the country's fourth-largest lender has been in
limbo since June, when a run on deposits prompted the central
bank to seize control of Corpbank and close its operations,
sparking a banking crisis in the Balkan state.
The prospect of private backing would be welcomed by
Bulgarian authorities after rescue efforts by the central bank
and the former Socialist-led government were derailed by a lack
of political consensus in July.
The central bank ordered an audit of Corpbank's books, which
is due to be completed in October, but it remains unclear
whether the lender will be rescued or tipped into insolvency,
and to what extent its depositors and bondholders will be
Unable to access their deposits since the bank closed,
hundreds of angry customers staged protests in Sofia and other
towns and cities on Tuesday. Separately, a group of bondholders
is contemplating legal action against the government.
"Yes, a fund based in Vienna showed interest in rescuing
Corpbank," Bliznashki told reporters. "Their representatives
will present a concrete plan within 10 days ... it's a ray of
hope, but we'll see."
A caretaker government appointed by the president took
charge of Bulgaria in early August and will govern the Balkan
state until elections in October. The current administration
does not have powers to raise new debt, making a state-funded
rescue of Corpbank unlikely until after the polls.
An Omani sovereign wealth fund, which owns 30 percent of
Corpbank, has also been in talks with Bulgarian authorities
about stabilising Corpbank. Interim Finance Minister Rumen
Porozhanov said at Wednesday's news conference that he had not
met with the Oman fund's representatives since taking office.
Clients unnerved by reports of alleged shady deals involving
Corpbank's main owner, Tsvetan Vassilev, withdrew more than a
fifth of deposits in a week-long run on the bank.
Vassilev, who was locked in a public feud with a rival at
the time of the run, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and
said the run was a plot hatched by his competitors. He has also
previously accused elements of Bulgaria's prosecution service of
plotting against him.
The early results of the Corpbank audit showed activities at
the lender "incompatible with the law and good banking
practices", the central bank said.
Bulgarian prosecutors have charged Vassilev with
embezzlement and said that an international warrant for his
arrest had been issued.
(Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by David Goodman)