PrivatBank was forcing a man to pay void loan debt in the amount of UAH 100,000

Kyiv public counseling office of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has compelled withdrawal of lawsuit for the redemption of the non-existent loan. PrivatBank has made two attempts to charge the loan and the related interest from the person, who had not contracted any loans with the bank.


How easy is to get a bank loan?

It took almost a year for a citizen of Ukraine, a citizen of Kyiv R. to restore justice and make out the case through the help of lawyers of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

It all started in 2006. The affected citizen R. began systematically to receive letters and phone calls from various banks with demands to pay debts under loan agreements allegedly concluded between him and those banks.

Shortly before that the passport of R. was stolen by the unknown. Law enforcement authorities were immediately informed of that fact. Following his statement an administrative protocol was drawn up. As was later established by the law enforcement investigation, the victim’s passport was stolen by law-breakers, who glued in a new photograph and contracted a number of loans in his name in different banks, including CB PrivatBank, PJSC. By the way, passports with photos glued in are not issued in any European countries. However, should the bank employees take care of a closer examination of the document and have a more responsible attitude to their duties they would notice that the passport was forged. It was quite easy for the fraudsters to get a loan in PrivatBank in the name of citizen of Kyiv R. in the amount of UAH 7,635 with interest payments (25.08% per annum) for the purchase of household appliances.

Eventually, the criminals were detained. On April 17, 2012 Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv city found them guilty. According to the court judgment the fraudsters were sentenced to imprisonment and ordered to return the credited (stolen) money without paying interest — i. e., only UAH 7,635. Is it really easier (cheaper) to fraudulently get a bank loan, than to obtain it fairly and to pay considerable interest regularly? The court session was attended by the representative of PrivatBank. It would seem that justice was restored and R. from Kyiv could sleep a peaceful sleep again. But here is where the real fun begins.


Bank VS Fraudsters: spot ten differences

In 2014, the same story involving R. repeated with renewed vigor. He received another notification from PrivatBank, stating that he owed a debt to the bank under the loan issued in 2006 to fraudsters in his name. The only difference was that this time the employees of the bank were well aware that the loan agreement was concluded not by R., but the fraudsters, who used his stolen passport by crime to get a loan in the name of another person. In addition, interest accrued and the amount due to payment has significantly increased over the years — the bank demanded citizen R. to pay almost UAH 105,000.

“After letting their own funds to some villains based upon roughly forged documents, the bank tried to shift the blame for their lack of professionalism to me” — the victim R. says with certainty.

To make R. pay out the loan debt and interest, the bank filed an action to the Industrialny District Court of Dnipropetrovsk. Surprisingly, the judge Zosymenko S. H. satisfied the claim of PrivatBank: the court recognized the victim R. debtor, who had to pay the appropriate “debt” to the bank.

In despair the man requested assistance from Kyiv public counseling office of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union. Oleh Levytskyi, lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, commented on the bank’s actions: “PrivatBank lodged a lawsuit with significant violations. In the first place, the bank was aware that R. was not the debtor, since the contract was signed with fraudsters. Secondly, PrivatBank filed a lawsuit to the court of Dnipropetrovsk, while according to jurisdiction rules the proceedings should be held at the place of residence of the defendant or the place of conclusion of loan agreement, that is they had to turn to the court of Kyiv. Third, according to the Civil Code of Ukraine the term of limitation is three years. The bank filed a suit to recover the amounts due under the loan agreement only in July 2013, i. e. more than seven years after the occurrence of the claim.”

Since the court of Dnipropetrovsk had no right to consider the application of PrivatBank under the current legislation of Ukraine, what were grounds for judge Zosymenko to conduct the trial and reach verdict in favor of the bank?

“PrivatBank filed a baseless lawsuit to knowingly inappropriate party in violation of jurisdiction rules and outside the term of limitation. The Industrialny District Court of Dnipropetrovsk opened proceedings on the suit without notifying the defendant, and satisfied plaintiff’s claim. I am sure that such coherence in the actions of a private bank and a court would become the object of a very careful study by the police in any civilized country” — says the lawyer Oleh Levytskyi.

Intense communications with the court and court hearings lasted for almost a year. All the while lawyers of Kyiv public counseling office were trying to help the affected R. restore justice. At the last court session on March 6, 2015 PrivatBank finally “surrendered” and asked the Industrialny District Court to dismiss their claim without prejudice. The victim R. commented: “PrivatBank withdrew their claim without any explanation and apology. Now they pretend that nothing happened at all.”


P.S.: author’s note

When this article was almost ready for publishing, my office phone rang. I picked up the phone and heard a woman’s voice, recorded on the answering machine: “Hello! Welcome to PrivatBank. We inform you that you have to pay the debt on the loan under the agreement with our bank. If you are willing to pay it within five days press ‘1’, to connect to the operator press ‘2’… Fortunately, I have no loan commitments. Psychologists call such phenomena ‘space synchronization’. And I would also add that fraud ‘virus’ by PrivatBank spreads out and mutates…

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