Reader feedback: The right definition for BMG and Horizont

Why are you referring to non-licensed Slovak investment firms such as BMG and Horizont as 'savings and loan funds'? ["More S&L closures spark panic", by Ed Holt, March 4 - 10, Vol.8, No.8] They are neither S&L's nor funds.

An S&L is a licensed financial institution whose deposits are insured by the government. A fund is typically a legal entity such as a trust, managed by a professional asset management company. Thus, for example, the Fidelity Magellan Fund owns a portfolio of stocks and bonds, and the fund would not lose any of these assets if the fund's manager, Fidelity Investments, were to go bankrupt.

In contrast, my understanding is that, under their contracts, BMG "investors" merely loaned money that BMG promised to repay with interest of 30% or even higher. BMG held no banking license, the "investments" were not insured by the government (or anyone else), and there was no legally distinct entity that held any stocks or bonds acquired with the proceeds of the loans. The clients had nothing but BMG's own word that they would be repaid.

Bill Dzurilla
White & Case, Bratislava

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