The Sarajevo debt collection agency Eos Matrix has withdrawn lawsuits against two alleged debtors it charged with fictitious loans raised by the Prizma Microcredit Foundation, which ended up in court and in a category that prevents them from any sort of debt.
By: Andrijana Pisarević/ eTrafika
This was confirmed for our portal by Banja Luka lawyer Din Tešić, who represents both clients, but also hundreds of others who were fraudulently involved in imaginary debts or loan rescheduling of the “Prizma” Microcredit Foundation and the “Synergy” Microcredit Foundation, which pushed them into dubious they could never get out of. Everything is happening in the period when eTrafika publishes a large research on the activities of the mentioned agency.
Tešić says that this time, too, it turned out that his clients were right and that they were deceived in a huge number of proceedings. Fortunately, he says, many proceedings have become statute-barred, which is why, without investing in painstaking evidence, they could relatively easily determine the non-existence of their debt.
“With the position taken of the Supreme Court of the Republika Srpska on the statute of limitations for claims in these cases of five and three years, it became clear to the prosecutor that they will lose a large number of cases. Now it happens that, as soon as we get into a lawsuit and the client engages us, the prosecutor Eos Matrix d.o.o Sarajevo waives the claim against our clients in full and admits the unfoundedness of their lawsuit,” said Tešić.
Thanks to the waiver of the lawsuit, “Eos Matrix” asked the court to “pass a verdict on the basis of waiver without further discussion”, thus admitting that the claims of these two were illegal.
One of them, L.M. from Laktaši, who asked us not to reveal his name, says that one day he only received a notification that he owed 11,000KM for a loan he never took out.
“I never took a loan from them, but I know that my brother did. It is not at all clear to me how they attached this loan to me. According to their records, that was more than ten years ago, and they sent me a notice half a year ago. I found out that I have a loan and that the debt is ‘frozen’. I didn’t even know that I had a loan, or that it was some ‘frozen’ debt, and I didn’t even know exactly what that meant. I immediately went to Banja Luka and found a lawyer who deals with those cases, explained the situation and we started the fight. I am very grateful to him for his help, this was such a shock for me, I can’t explain to you what I went through with my family since then “, he told eTrafika.
Our interlocutor says that he is now calm because the Sarajevo company finally admitted defeat and that there are no debts, which he himself has always claimed.
“They have given up now, they have admitted defeat and that there is no debt. When lawyer Tešić told me that I had won the case, a stone fell from my heart. No one has too much money today, especially not to pay fictitious debts. Unfortunately, we do not have any government to stand behind the people, we can only rely on individuals who work hard and do their job well,” he said.
Slobodan Jokić from Banja Luka also had no idea that he had taken out a loan and that he was in debt. He says that he cannot understand how much he was actually in debt, or how it came about that his existing loan was increased by 5,000KM, which he had never seen before, nor did he know about.
“Imagine what it would be like for someone to take out a loan on your behalf and just burden you with debt. The loan officer used my data with some wisdom and over-indebted me with the credit committee, without me knowing anything about it. I had a loan that I paid off regularly and when I came to close it, they just told me I had another 5,000 KM from 10 or more years ago. When I found out about it, that officer, who allegedly approved my loan, hadn’t worked there for a long time, so there was no contract. Only after a year and a half did the contract appear. “Prizma” then went bankrupt, and with the takeover of their alleged duties, “Eos Matrix” started putting pressure on me. They sent me 1,000 messages and called me I don’t know how many times, that I had to pay for it. As a result, I was left with creditworthiness in some category at the bottom of the list. They persecuted me the way they usually do, “Jokić told eTrafika.
Now that he had defeated them in court, Jokić says that he is looking for a way to remove the bans from his name, because he has always been a regular payer of all bills and installments.
“I am looking for a way to regain my creditworthiness. “Eos Matrix” didn’t sue me because it wasn’t a clear situation, there was no contract, but they chased me to get money from me. I sued them and it was resolved in my favor. I am infinitely grateful to my lawyer, a man who helped me get rid of a huge burden. I still can’t believe what they did to us. I never ran away from my obligations, I always paid everything regularly, I repaid the apartment on credit, I was not late to pay the phone bill, and then it turns out that I have some credit somewhere, that I took out and did not pay, and in that amount “. says Jokić.
At the end of last year, the Supreme Court of Republika Srpska took a stand on the decades-long problem of thousands of citizens regarding the payment of unpaid annuities (installments) from the loan agreement and decided that they become obsolete, not only while the agreement is still valid, but also in cases where the deadline has expired but there was no termination of it. That deadline is five years for uninterrupted contracts, and ten for those that are terminated.
“In the event that the loan agreement is terminated due to non-payment and irregular payment of the installment, the creditor’s claim, which refers to the entire repayment of the debt on behalf of the unpaid loan amount, becomes obsolete within ten years. The payment of a part of the debt after the termination of the loan agreement does not terminate the statute of limitations on the claims of the remaining unpaid debt. When the plaintiff filed a motion for enforcement on the basis of an authentic instrument (bill of exchange) to pay the loan agreement, and the court subsequently ruled that the motion would be considered a lawsuit, the lawsuit was not modified if the plaintiff did not demand payment of the debt on the basis of a bill of exchange, but on the basis of a loan agreement, in which case the statute of limitations for the claim was interrupted by the first action, ie by submitting a proposal for execution “, stated the mentioned court.
However, “Eos Matrix” continues to persecute and intimidate alleged debtors with calls, pressures and lawsuits from “Prizma”, and now they have expanded the field of action to a large number of citizens who took out loans from the Microcredit Company “Sinergija plus” in the time span from 2001 until 2008, which went bankrupt in 2012. From then until today, all deadlines for lawsuits have expired, but that has not demoralized the “Eos Matrix” whose workers continue to call and pressure citizens to pay debts they did not even know about or that have become obsolete, which was confirmed by the great number of injured citizens.
Dozens of citizens who are struggling with these pressures and lawsuits, with whom we spoke in the past period, claim that they were all victims from the first day, when they were persuaded to raise unrealistically high amounts, and then through various “reprograms” in which they did not sign anything, facilitating repayment by indebting them even more and sticking to them interest rates of which they were not even aware.
Slavica Popadić from Laktaši is one of those who won the “Eos matrix” in court and proved that she was deceived. However, the harassment from “Eos” after the triumph did not stop, because they called her because of another alleged debtor, forcing her to put pressure on their behalf. Because of all this, Slavica says, she had serious health problems, which is why she is considering suing this company again, this time for persecution and harassment.
“I can’t explain to you what they are doing to me. I had a nervous breakdown due to their harassment and persecution. Then I sued them and they lost. They called me until the last minute, until the verdict. Now we are waiting to see what will happen to another friend of mine who also sued them. It is interesting that she does not have a phone and they keep calling me because of her. I blocked at least 50 of their numbers. “I heard that a lot of people reported it to the police, and I’m thinking of doing that and suing them for everything they did,” she said.
The microcredit foundation “Prizma” and the microcredit company “Sinergija plus” fraudulently dragged thousands of citizens into credit indebtedness that they did not know existed. The workers of these organizations consciously chose citizens of predominantly poor means, pressed by poverty and problems in underdeveloped rural areas. They assured them that these were donations for these categories, and handed them smaller sums of money.
Months and even years later, they received lawsuits demanding the repayment of much larger amounts with interest. Small loans and borrowings taken out by citizens turned into huge amounts or were “pushed” into illegal reprograms in which they only added amounts of debts to them, without even seeing the extra money. Very often, it happened that the amount of reprogramming or interest far exceeded the original amount. This is confirmed by numerous verdicts against them, while the verdicts in several hundred individual and collective lawsuits filed on the same grounds are eagerly awaited. It is estimated that MKF “Prizma” deceived at least 3,000 citizens in this way, and for MKD “Sinergija plus” there is no assessment of the situation yet.
Although these frauds were committed more than ten years ago and hundreds of lawsuits have been filed, and in recent years the story has been repeated in public, it remains unclear why prosecutors are no longer engaged in investigating such a large fraud, but also why courts do not agree to consolidate lawsuits of aggrieved citizens. It is encouraging that in the middle of last year, the courts began to rule in favor of the injured citizens. In these verdicts, the first of several dozen lawsuits filed, it is stated that the request of “Eos Matrix” is unfounded and that the defendants will not have to settle the alleged debts, as well as that they must be paid court costs. These are just two examples of at least 3,000 citizens.
We asked several prosecutor’s offices in BiH whether and on what basis they investigated anything related to these two organizations or received any criminal charges against them, and did they investigate the responsible persons? The Federal Prosecutor’s Office of the FBIH replied that it did not have the data.
The Banja Luka District Public Prosecutor’s Office has investigated several cases against registered workers in the Prizma Microcredit Organization, some of which ended with indictments.
“On December 25, 2018, OJT Banja Luka filed an indictment against Dragan Balać from Šipovo, for abuse of official position or authority with a prolonged criminal offense of forging or destroying an official document and a prolonged criminal offense of fraud. An indictment was also filed against Radosava Savić, for abuse of official position or authority in connection with the extended criminal offense of forging or destroying an official document. The Prosecution filed an indictment against Goran Čikić on November 16, 2021, for abuse of official position or authority. There are three more cases related to the ‘Prizma’ Microcredit Organization. The cases were opened on the basis of criminal charges from citizens. Also, the Prosecutor’s Office is acting in three cases against the registered legal entity “Eos matrix”, related to the criminal offense of persecution, “they said in the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Banja Luka.
The District Public Prosecutor’s Office in East Sarajevo has filed an indictment against Milenko Ponjarac, a former Prizma employee, confirmed by the Basic Court in Sokolac.
So far, it has been determined that several investigations and criminal proceedings are being conducted against Prizma employees due to the conclusion of fictitious loan agreements. Prizma employees did not only cheat citizens on loans.
As they themselves said, they also cheated those who really had loans. Those who took out several thousand marks of credit and had problems with repayment were offered new loan agreements with larger amounts, in order to repay the original loans. It was a case of deception because someone who took out a loan of one thousand KM could still get that much interest, and according to the law, she cannot exceed the principal and make debt of more than two thousand. However, officials would tell ignorant people that it is better to cover the old debt with a new loan of two thousand KM, and at the same time get extra time to secure money. Of course, then the interest could go twice as high, so they became indebted 4,000 KM, when they were offered new contracts and the debt later grew to 8,000 KM, etc. Some even reached a debt of 20,000 KM.
The worst thing is that the debtors, drawn into the vicious circle, became incapable of credit, and then involved their family members or friends in everything, so that they could take out new loans and repay the old ones. Thanks to that, today we have young people aged 25 and 30, who are probably incapable of credit for the rest of their lives.
When the organization went bankrupt, the loans were kept in strict secrecy and it is unknown where they ended up. It is an open secret that Prizma’s funds were used to finance and buy votes, both in the RS and FBiH, just before the elections. Workers often complained about mobbing, especially those who worked outside the headquarters in Sarajevo.
The company “Eos martix” said that they have nothing to do with possible controversial acts of Prizma employees, and that all clients who feel cheated can contact them at any time.
However, when it comes to “Sinergija plus”, the prosecution has no open cases in its work.
The Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Republika Srpska and its Special Department for the Suppression of Corruption, Organized and Serious Forms of Economic Crime have no reports or submissions that can be linked to the microcredit organizations Prizma and Sinergija plus, nor reports against individuals related to these organizations.
It is also interesting that the trade in receivables has been persistently left in the so-called gray zone. The data show that banks and microcredit organizations got rid of bad loans worth over 950 million KM, selling them to lesser-known and almost mysterious agencies that no one controls.
In October last year, two verdicts were passed in favor of the injured citizens, which “Prizma” illegally involved in loans, and “Eos matrix” tried to collect certain amounts. The Basic Court in Banja Luka ruled in favor of Radovan Kešin and his wife Ljubljanka from Laktaši and acquitted them of a debt of almost 14,000 KM to “Eos”. The mentioned company must pay compensation for the costs of the procedure.
Almost at the same time, the same court ruled in favor of Stevo Boroja from Mrkonjić Grad, from whom “Eos matrix” demanded over 9,500 KM.