As a foreign bank account holder in Spain, it is essential to be aware of the bank liquidation process, its impact on your investments, and how to protect and safeguard assets. Understanding bank liquidation procedures in Spain is crucial for foreign account holders to manage their expectations and protect their investments. By staying informed about the process, its rationale, and the legal framework, they can better navigate the complexities of bank liquidation and safeguard their assets in Spain.

Differences Between Corporate Liquidation and Bank Liquidation in Spain: Corporate liquidation typically involves the winding up of a company, selling its assets, and distributing the proceeds among creditors and shareholders. Bank liquidation, however, is a more complex process as it involves financial institutions that hold deposits and other assets from customers. The main difference is that in bank liquidation, the government intervenes to ensure stability in the financial system and protect depositors through guarantee schemes like the Deposit Guarantee Fund (DGF).

Rationale Behind Bank Liquidation and Its Impact on Society: Bank liquidation serves to protect the financial system’s stability and maintain public confidence. It usually occurs when a bank’s solvency is beyond repair, posing a threat to the economy. The process ensures that the failing bank’s assets are efficiently allocated, and depositors are protected to minimize the social and economic impact.

Reasons for Bank Liquidation or Penalization: The decision to liquidate or penalize a bank depends on the severity of its situation. Banks that are insolvent or pose a significant threat to the financial system are likely to be liquidated. In contrast, those with less severe issues might face penalties or other corrective measures, allowing them to continue operating while addressing their problems.

Governing Laws for Bank Liquidation in Spain: Bank liquidation in Spain is regulated by several laws, including the Credit Institutions Solvency Act (Law 10/2014), the Bank of Spain’s Circular 4/2004, and the Royal Decree-Law 16/2011, which established the Deposit Guarantee Fund (DGF).

Procedures Prior to Liquidation: Before liquidation, the Bank of Spain and the European Central Bank (ECB) assess the bank’s solvency and determine if there are any viable alternatives to liquidation. These may include restructuring, recapitalization, or merging with another institution. If no viable alternatives exist, the Bank of Spain initiates the liquidation process.

Valuation of Assets and Potential Write-Downs: An independent valuer assesses the distressed bank’s assets, and any write-downs are determined based on current market conditions. Assets can include loans, investments, and property holdings.

Collection of Foreign Assets: Collecting foreign assets during liquidation can be challenging due to differences in jurisdiction and legal systems. The liquidator collaborates with foreign authorities to recover these assets, which may impact the timeframe and repayment percentages for creditors.

Appointment of a Liquidator: The Bank of Spain appoints a liquidator to manage the liquidation process, ensuring the orderly sale of assets, distribution to creditors, and compliance with applicable laws.

Distribution of Assets to Creditors: The liquidator distributes the bank’s assets to creditors based on the creditor hierarchy established by Spanish law. Creditors must file a Proof of Debt to participate in the distribution.

Proof of Debt Submission: Creditors must submit a Proof of Debt, which includes the details of their claim, to the liquidator within a specified timeframe. The liquidator reviews and verifies the claims before distributing the assets.

Creditor Hierarchy and Priority of Claims: Spanish law, specifically the Bankruptcy Act (Law 22/2003), establishes the hierarchy of claims in a liquidation process. Generally, secured creditors have priority, followed by preferential creditors, unsecured creditors, and subordinated creditors. This hierarchy ensures that claims with higher priority are satisfied before those with lower priority.

Treatment of Secured and Unsecured Creditors: Secured creditors have collateral to secure their claims, giving them priority in the distribution of assets. Unsecured creditors do not have collateral and are therefore ranked lower in the creditor hierarchy. They may receive a lower repayment percentage compared to secured creditors, depending on the available assets.

Duration of Liquidation Process and Payout Expectations: The duration of the bank liquidation process in Spain varies depending on factors such as the complexity of the bank’s assets, legal proceedings, and collaboration with foreign authorities. It may take several months to years for the process to be completed. Creditors can expect payouts as the liquidator sells the assets and distributes the proceeds according to the established creditor hierarchy.