Church gives up bid for Catholic Syrian Bank

After one-and-a-half decade of rivalry, Catholic church in Kerala has said it is giving up efforts to wrest the control of the Catholic Syrian Bank.

Updated: Dec 14, 2010, 14:19 PM IST

Mumbai/Thrissur: After one-and-a-half decade of rivalry and public sparring, the Catholic church in Kerala has said it is giving up efforts to wrest the control of the Catholic Syrian Bank which has many of its community members as shareholders.

It however vowed to resist any move to shift the headquarters out of Thrissur or renaming the lender.

"Neither the Archdiocese of Thrissur, nor the CSB Protection Committee nor the Catholic community have any enmity towards the bank now. The bank is running well under the stewardship of VP Iswardas (Managing Director and Chief executive) today," Archdiocese of Thrissur auxiliary bishop Mar Raphael Thattill said.

On this change of stance, the Bishop said, "the Archdiocese is not in a position to put up a string fight to control the bank. The shares held by the Catholic community and the church together are under 10 per cent only now."

The church is happy to cooperate with the bank management for its progress, the bishop said further.

However, he quickly added, "if the bank attempts to deviate from the objectives of its original promoters like shifting the headquarters out of Thrissur or change its name, we will resist such moves."

The CSB Protection Committee convener Johny Chandy also concurred saying, "we are not pursuing our effort to take over CSB, as we have been unable to buy shares from Chawla.
"However, we will ensure that the bank maintains the spirit of its initial promoters and uphold the interest of the Catholic community."

Chandy`s family, one of the promoters of the bank said over phone from Thrissur, the bank was initially set up by around 30 Syrian Catholic families of Thrissur way back in November 1920.

However, when reached, CSB non-executive chairman S Santhanakrishan refused to comment saying: "I am not aware of such development, as the church has not spoken to us on anything in this regard."
Similarly, one of the directors S Antharaman too, said, he cannot comment, "as all directors have been asked not to talk to the media."

Managing director and Chief Executive Iswardas, when contacted said in Thrissur: "the bank has no plan to move out of the city or rename the bank. The bank`s avowed policy is to run the 90-year-old organisation in adherence to the objective of its promoters."

As to how they will be able to ensure that the management, and especially the largest shareholder Chawla who is antagonistic to the idea of the Church members taking over the bank, would adhere to this.

Chandy said, "we`ll closely monitor the functioning of the bank... we`ll go to any extent to protect our interest, including approaching the courts or the government, as we did in the past."

PTI