Foreign exchange loan holders have had enough! Now they are going to Brussels and fight to the end...
Organized by the Radical Anti-Bank Group, Hungarian citizens held an awareness-raising protest in Brussels on March 31, 2015. Representing the misled Hungarian foreign exchange loan holders, the protesters submitted a petition, demonstrated and talked about the situation of debtors in total desperation at a public hearing organized by Dr. Krisztina Morvai, Member of the European Parliament.
Link to the petition (in Hungarian):
The participants watched the documentary film "We want justice! - a cry for help of foreign exchange loan holders trapped in debt", too. You can watch the film here (in Hungarian):
The citizens submitted a petition, i.e. a legal complaint presenting the facts and claiming a violation of the EU law to the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament. The relevant committee of the European Parliament will discuss the petition after it is received. The goal of the signers of the petition is to get the European Parliament to call upon the Hungarian National Assembly to pass legislation in order to convert into HUF these loan contracts which provide unfair (foreign exchange) profit for banks, triples the burdens of debtors on average and have always been HUF-based in fact. Based on the petition, these loan contracts that are fictively referred to as "foreign exchange based" ones would be converted into HUF at a rate of 1 CHF = 160 HUF instead of the rate 1 CHF = 256 HUF set by the legislation last year. The petition asks banks to be held accountable and to compensate the victims for their losses suffered. The other objectives of the petition is to have the executory proceedings against insolvent debtors suspended as well as to have the repossessed properties returned.
After submitting the petition, the claimants held a demonstration in front of the European Parliament for the hundred thousands of people in utter desperation, suffering in debt slavery and let down by the Hungarian legislation. Their spectacular demonstration raised significant interest. The speakers were talking about the persistent struggle they go through in order to help their fellow victims and pointed out that they had run out of patience so they would use any means necessary to protect their homes and to demand justice.
In the afternoon, the event continued with a more than two-hour-long public hearing in the European Parliament attended by several MEPs as well as the representatives of the relevant departments of the European Commission, one of whom noted that the body would pay particular attention to the case. The event was hosted by MEP Dr. Krisztina Morvai, who pointed out that Hungarian banks put a significant segment of the population into debt by issuing foreign exchange loans unfairly disguised as favourable long-term deals. The problem is not unique, the same happened in Croatia and Romania albeit to a lesser extent. By now, these loan contracts have proven to be "faulty products" as the only reason why these loan amounts, which were credited to borrowers in HUF, were denominated in a foreign currency was to maximize bank profit, while the misled debtors had to bear all the burdens caused by the fluctuation of exchange and interest rates. Prompted by debtor protests and successful lawsuits, the Hungarian National Assembly did pass certain legislation, but it fails to remedy the root cause of the problem. Even though loan contracts were converted into HUF last year (at the exchange rate of 1 CHF = 256 HUF), debtors still have to bear most of the burdens and damages arising from these loan contracts packed with unfair stipulations violating the EU's consumer protection regulations, and these people are now utterly devastated and deprived.
Attorney and finance lawyer Dr. Andrea Varga-Damm said in the Parliamentary hearing that banks were never buying and selling actual foreign currency, they simply loaned Hungarian Forints by way of the "foreign currency based" contracts and their only reason to tie the instalment amounts to a HUF/foreign currency exchange rate was to maximize bank profits in an unfair manner. She believes that the act on the execution of the agreement between the government and the Bank Federation, the lobby organization of banks operating in Hungary needs to be amended because not only did this act allow banks to retain their extra profit gained through unfair stipulations but it violates the European Union's regulations pertaining to consumers' rights as well. These loans must be considered as HUF loans per se and be settled accordingly, while the current solution left people stuck in the trap.
Katalin Kerékgyártó and László Kerékgyártó, the leaders of the Radical Anti-Bank Group informed the participants of the hearing that there were approximately 600 thousand contracts in question, and this massive fraud indirectly shook the foundations of the lives of 3 million people. Hundred thousands of families were devastated as most of them could only repay their ten-twenty-thirty-year household, car or business development loans with utmost austerity. Nearly half of them could not even pay despite drastic cuts of family expense. Hundred thousands went bankrupt within four-five years, masses of people emigrated due to an utter lack of economic prospects, tens of thousands lost their homes, many committed suicide, while banks lost several lawsuits.
Quoting the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the speakers pointed out that "Union policies shall ensure a high level of consumer protection." They believe such policies must be applied to all European citizens, including the millions of Hungarians caught and suffering in a debt trap.
Seven victims gave shocking accounts of their plight, one of them attempted suicide in utter desperation, while another one got a severe tumour due to the distress caused by the debt trap.
The participants of the hearing watched the documentary film "We want justice! - a cry for help of foreign exchange loan holders trapped in debt" by Lajos Almási and Dr. Tamás Gaudi-Nagy, which factually and efficiently presents how the "loan conversion act", contrary to the government propaganda, let down the victims and how desperate these citizens are to use any means necessary to achieve a fair settlement of the problem.
Brussels, April 1, 2015
Dr. Krisztina Morvai, Member of EP