''If we prohibit to issue 'black loans' – people will begin to take them against receipt''

The government is interested in lending to citizens — this ensures their relative capacity to pay

About 2,000 organizations engaged in illegal lending to the population, or also known as 'black creditors', were identified in Russia in 2018. This March, at a meeting with the head of the Central Bank, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded to restore order to this matter. Whether it is real to make it and what in this case can help — read in the interview of Realnoe Vremya with Maria Arkhipova, a lawyer from Moscow, the chairperson of Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights.

''Sometimes it is a legal entity signs a contract with the borrower, but the lender is a natural person''

Maria Sergeevna, I've heard from a financial expert that there are no 'black creditors' in our country, and in general they are the same microfinance organizations working illegally. Is that true?

In jurisprudence, of course, there is no such term as 'black creditors' — it is rather a popular assessment of the activities of those credit institutions that issue loans and operate in the market in addition to banks. It can be both credit organizations registered to a legal entity and natural persons acting as ordinary creditors issuing money against receipt.

There are really a lot of such organizations in the market because they have a certain advantage compared to banks — they can give money on the same day as the application. Today it often relates to the contract scheme ''mortgage secured by real estate'': our legislation, unfortunately, allows in case of difficulties with payments to foreclose the mortgage, without providing people with other housing. In addition, the peculiarity of the current 'black creditors' is that they act using large penalties for late payment. That is, now if a person takes a loan from them of 600,000 rubles, in the end he will have to repay more than a million rubles — all this is designed to make him not to pay off the loan, fall into a debt trap with penalties, fines and additional charges.

Why are there a lot of 'black lenders'? Because they can use the psychological state of a person — many of our citizens urgently need money to solve difficult life situations.

''Of course, the same 'black creditors' have ads in newspapers, posting information on the fences in their arsenal — this system is completely looped, and we cannot say that it is now connected only with the Internet. But, undoubtedly, the Internet helps fraudsters to attract more customers — there is more aggressive marketing here.'' Photo: vmnews.ru

Microfinance organizations (MFOs) or natural persons are engaged in this more often?

Most often it is natural persons, but it happens that it is a legal entity signs a contract, but the creditor is a natural person, and they throw off the track not to arouse suspicion in the future debtor. In addition, natural persons do not need licensing for this activity — they are subject to the common contract of receipt.

''The government has created an artificial shortage of money to restrain inflation''

The same financial experts say that the high rates of legal MFOs and the reluctance of banks to issue small loans contribute to the activities of 'black creditors'. Do you agree with these reasons?

The reason is primarily in the low solvency of citizens — wealthy people do not take loans. But the rest do. We have demand inflation and supply inflation — demand inflation was suppressed due to the shortage of money in the market, and the same dollar cost not 100 or 200 rubles, but around 65. Due to what? Due to a deficit of credit money supply. The currency is usually provided by the national producer in any country, and if our production is low, our currency is provided only by oil. Why the ruble did not cost 100 rubles — it is because the government created an artificial shortage of money that allowed to restrain inflation. People have little money left, but how to ensure their solvency in this case? At the expense of monetary supply — it allows to give money to the same enterprises, so that they do not go bankrupt. Therefore, the government is interested in loans to the population — they provide a certain solvency of citizens, and profits to enterprises that are in the territory of the Russian Federation.

But the problem in the credit sphere is not solved at the level of the government. In general, the state should aim to increase the necessary production — goods, services, which will increase the well-being of people and dramatically reduce the need for loans. Well, if we forbid to give out credits under high percent — those who will be refused credits will take them under receipts. 'The black market' in this case will increase. Remember the '90s, when informal lending from criminal structures flourished.

Well, the second solution to the problem is the controllability of this sphere so that people do not have the opportunity to get into bondage.

''We have demand inflation and supply inflation — demand inflation was suppressed due to a shortage of money in the market, and the same dollar cost not 100 or 200 rubles, but around 65. Due to what? Due to a deficit of the credit money supply.'' Photo: Ilya Repin

What do you think about a real criminal term for such activities? After all, in the course of them many people lose their apartments, and ''black creditors'' can now get off with a fine, the maximum of 500,000 rubles.

Look, if you lend money to a relative, are you a criminal after that? Private financial relations between people are impossible to prevent! Even in the USSR, despite all the prohibitions, monetary relations existed. The question is not in punishments, but in the fact that it is necessary, first of all, to increase the solvency of citizens! That is, if we want citizens not to be credited, we need to resolve the issue of production.

''The concept of 'social welfare state' has died''

But you know, we have problems with serious strategic decisions in the corridors of power. It's probably easier for banks to issue small loans, isn't it?

It's not the banks who decide, but the government. The bank is not exactly an economic entity, and it needs a direction from the top in our current system of economic relations.

Is it profitable for the government to issue small loans? What is the problem here for our management?

The thing is not in whether it is profitable or not, but that the government has a plan — it is now concerned about subsidies to agriculture, mortgage support and so on.

But the state has money for small loans at a low interest rate, after all?

As I understand it, at the moment the state is ready to issue such micro-loans, and if it can be done at the expense of small organizations, it will do it. If the social situation is heated up, it will be forced to do it through banks, but if the money runs out, how will it be ready to replace MFOs? The situation with money can be solved only through the development of production — the government faces this problem in any case. Otherwise, you either print money or issue bonds, like in the US, but our government did this thing in the '90s and it led to the GKO pyramid in 1998.

''What would I offer as a lawyer to the president? To declare the financial agreements of illegal immigrants, starting with the receipts of neighbours, invalid — all agreements must be carried out with licensed organizations and under the control of the Central Bank.'' Photo: wikipedia.org

Financial experts say that the market itself should determine the interest rate for micro-loans, and this will remove the problems in the same 'black market'. Or government regulation here is as important as in bank loan rates?

MFO is a real economy, so the state will not interfere strictly here. Yes, new rates have been introduced, but will it save the borrower if there are penalties? The interest rate may be zero, but MFOs have the opportunity to circumvent the law.

But a lot of people are suffering from MFOs and 'black creditors', and besides, these people, like you said, are mostly poor. How to do here without government regulation?

I will tell the following — since 1980s the concept of ''social welfare state'' has died — it was replaced by the concept of ''economically effective state'', and the economically effective state — it is economic entities, corporations. Hence the problems of our country — the person in such system, even one who creates surplus product, becomes unnecessary, he is replaced by financial institutions, and, unfortunately, this model of economy is beginning to form in our world. This model led to the crisis of 2008, we did not get out of it and I think we will not get out it very soon, because we need to get out of it not with the help of officials, but with the help of people of science — the same economists. Therefore, the problem of personnel comes to the fore here because it is because of the incompetence of people in the market economy there appeared such costs as 'black creditors'.

Head of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina admitted that it is not easy to cope with illegal market yet. President Putin has urged to resolve the issue as soon as possible. What can we get in the end?

I think that eventually there will be a campaign on counteracting the activity of such organizations — one hundred percent. But the question is — where will these 'black creditors' go? Before that, they could create all sorts of MMMs, go to equity-shared construction and mortgage, but what will happen next is unclear. Nabiullina is right — if a neighbour borrows from a neighbour — it is difficult to control. How to solve this problem? After all, look — these organizations of 'black creditors' are created under the guise of partnerships, and under the guise of professional associations, and can even be created under the guise of savings banks — the imagination of fraudsters is huge. Besides, we should not forget that the world is globalizing in the digital economy, and it does not necessarily mean that the Russians will not borrow somewhere in Ukraine.

Do you have any hope for financial literacy in the coming years?

No, I do not — when a person is stressed because of the difficult financial situation, the professional manipulators-scammers will do their job. So what would I suggest as a lawyer to the president? To declare the financial agreements of illegal marketers, starting with the receipts of neighbours, invalid — all agreements must be carried out with licensed organizations and under the control of the Central Bank.

By Sergey Kochnev

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