* Angry depositors demand their money back
* No solution yet on bank closed after run on deposits
* Caused Bulgaria's biggest banking crisis since 1990s
By Angel Krasimirov
SOFIA, Aug 19 Hundreds of angry depositors at
Bulgaria's Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank) staged
protests in Sofia and several other cities on Tuesday, demanding
access to their accounts that have been frozen since the bank
was shut down in June.
Bulgaria's fourth-largest lender was hit by a run on
deposits that led to the country's biggest banking crisis since
the 1990s. There is still no solution in sight on what the
Balkan state - currently run by a caretaker government until
elections in October - will do with the bank or to what extent
its depositors and bondholders will be protected.
Protesters chanting "mafia" and "give us our money" rallied
in front of the central bank's headquarters in the Bulgarian
capital on Tuesday. Protests were also held in the
second-largest city of Plovdiv, the Black Sea cities of Varna
and Burgas and several smaller towns.
A rescue package put together by the central bank and the
previous Socialist-led government was derailed by a lack of
political consensus in July. Corpbank was placed under control
of the central bank following the run and has remained shut
pending an audit into its books, due to be completed by October.
The banking crisis has put renewed scrutiny on the
investment climate in Bulgaria. Standard & Poor's rating agency
downgraded Bulgaria's credit rating in June and the country has
struggled to revive economic growth and foreign investment.
Bulgarian authorities had originally planned to reopen
Corpbank in July.
"I paid a deposit to buy a home and signed a contract to pay
the remaining sum after (the planned) opening of the bank in
July," pensioner Violeta Dimitrova, 66, told national radio. "I
cannot take out a loan from another bank because of my age ...
And there are people who are seriously ill and they are in dire
need of money."
Clients unnerved by reports of alleged shady deals involving
Tsvetan Vassilev, Corpbank's main owner, withdrew more than a
fifth of deposits in the week-long bank run in June. 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.
Corpbank's deposits have been frozen even though Bulgarian
law provides for a deposit guarantee of up to 100,000 euros
($133,510). On Friday, the central bank allowed some banking
activities to resume at Corpbank so borrowers can repay loans to
(1 US dollar = 0.7490 euro)
(Editing by Matthias Williams and Susan Fenton)