Thursday, December 09, 2004

Today I was amazed from the news my cosmetologist Satig shared with me.

It seems that a year and a half ago, her father-in-law had a heart attack and had to be taken to Yerevan for emergency treatment.

Since she and her husband didn’t have the money needed for the treatments ($1,500), she barrowed it at 5% interest per month.

Until now all they have been able to afford was the interest which they have practically paid $1,500 in.

The other day, the woman who lent them the money, came to Satig and requested that they repay her immediately. The problem is that they don’t have $1,500 to repay her with, since what her and her husband make collectively just barely covers the $75 a month they pay in interest and basic living expenses for her family and husband’s parents.

I mentioned this situation to the mayor yesterday, to which he said that it is a shame they were put into a compromising situation beyond their control where they had to barrow money and that the person who lent them the money charged them an unreasonable amount of interest.

The mayor added that by law, they don’t have to repay the money, as charging interest for money lent is illegal without registering the loan with the tax authorities (something that was not done), as the interest that the lender receives is taxable. This means that legally, all they have to do is repay $1,500, which they have already done.

The mayor also said that during the hard times here, when there were people lending money at 10% per month for people doing business, he helped out a friend by lending him money to repay his high-interest loans and charged him only 2% (the amount the banks were paying on savings accounts). He said that obviously the person who lent the money to Satig was no friend and just someone who took advantage of the desperate situation they were in.

During this conversation at the salon, there was a hint of concern coming from Manoush, our hairdresser, who last year was in need of 100,000 dram from a gambling debt that her younger brother Arsen had ran up at a casino in Martuni (which has since been closed down). It seems that she too barrowed money from that same person at high interest, but has since paid her back.

What made me feel somewhat bad about this situation is that the person who lent the money to my employees charging such high interest is my former accountant/general manager Sweta.

It seems that my paying her $150 a month gave her the ability to “invest” that money in illegal, high-interest loans to people in desperation. On top of this, while recently reviewing the books, it seems that our deal of paying $150 a month was not followed, as what it appears she did was fix her salary based on the exchange rate of when she first started working for me and as the exchange rate began to drop, her salary began to rise, with her last paycheck being $174, twenty four dollars more for her to use for loans.

What baffles me the most about this is that she was supposedly friends with Satig and Manush and a strong bible toting God fearing believer.

I don’t know what Satig is going to do, but once I finish reviewing the books, I may send her a bill for the amount that she over charged me for her services, just because this is the right thing to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment