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German town fears $46 million loss on Greensill Bank accounts

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The mayor of Germany’s Monheim am Rhein is concerned that it may lose 38 million euros ($46 million) invested with Greensill Bank after a warning on Wednesday by the country’s financial regulator of “an imminent risk” to the lender.

FILE PHOTO: Greensill Bank is pictured in downtown Bremen, Germany, July 3, 2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

The sleepy northwestern German town, which has a population of 40,000 and boasts a medieval tower, parked the sum — which equates to almost 1,000 euros per resident — at Bremen-based Greensill Bank, the mayor said in an emailed statement.

German watchdog BaFin warned of the risk that Greensill Bank would become over-indebted on Wednesday, imposing a moratorium on the lender making disposals or payments.

BaFin’s move was another blow to Bremen-based Greensill Bank’s owner, Greensill Capital, which said on Tuesday it is in talks to sell large parts of its business after the loss of backing from two Swiss asset managers which underpinned key parts of its supply chain financing model.

“It is possible that we lose the entire amount of invested money,” the statement quoted the town’s mayor Daniel Zimmermann as telling council members in a letter.

The smaller town of Bad Duerrheim in the Black Forest also said in a statement on Thursday that it had placed 2 million euros with Greensill in January.

Greensill was not immediately available for comment.

Germany’s deposit protection scheme protects individuals and not institutional investors, the towns noted. Both said that they had turned to Greensill to avoid paying negative interest rates by depositing the funds elsewhere.

“We are now examining whether these cash investments constitute a violation of the city’s investment guidelines,” Monheim’s Zimmermann wrote.

A special meeting of the Monheim town audit committee is scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the matter.

($1 = 0.8317 euros)

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