Wednesday, August 17

Venezuelans desperate with big bank that froze savings

Some Venezuelan clients of the “Banco Occidental de Descuento” (BOD), one of the largest in the country, are desperate to withdraw their money deposited in savings at the institution, which froze withdrawals in foreign currencies.

The peaceful protest of customers took place last Thursday (28), when several of them chained themselves at the bank’s headquarters in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

BOD is one of the country’s leading banks, being elected the 5th largest in 2019 and again ranking among the top ten in 2020, with 3.2% of the population having an account in the institution.

Desperate Venezuelans with bank-frozen foreign currency savings

In recent years, much has been said about inflation in Venezuela, as the Bolivar lost great purchasing power, mainly associated with the collapse of the oil price on the international scene, which put pressure on the economy of the country neighboring Brazil.

With one of the biggest inflations registered in recent years, part of the Venezuelan population rushed to the search for heritage protections. One of the ways out by Venezuelans was the purchase of currencies from other countries, which do not suffer so much from inflation.

Thus, between 2012 and 2015, one of the largest banks in Venezuela, BOD, sold dollars to its customers through auctions. This practice led part of the clients to “buy” foreign currencies as asset protection, which would be redeemed through certificates.

Saving in a solid currency, however, is now another headache as customers accuse the BOD of freezing their accounts and not allowing them to redeem their assets in US currency.

Last Thursday, many desperate Venezuelans chained themselves to the bank’s headquarters, according to information shared by the National Thermometer.

“Sick people need the money”

In a video recorded by protesters at BOD headquarters, the spokeswoman for the protests identified that there were sick people in need of the money stuck in the bank. Many are in a delicate situation, one of them is even an elderly woman who appears in the video.

With the reserve in Dollars, around 16 thousand families are going through the situation of not having access to “their money”. This shows that the assets deposited in an institution are at risk, felt in the skin by Venezuelans already affected by the high inflation in their country.

Many have stated that they will continue with the protests until the situation is resolved. Publicly, the BOD did not comment on the protests, but published a Twitter campaign claiming that foreign currency deposits at the institution are guaranteed to customers.

“We facilitate the processing of your operations in foreign currency, carried out through the BOD exchange desk. Electronically request the purchase of dollars and euros”.

It is worth remembering that Venezuela is a country that has seen its population run to Bitcoin as a store of value, with many depending on mining in the country now. Thus, with national banks showing problems, the digital currency gains more relevance for savers to analyze where they place their assets.