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April 19, 2021

The head of the bank who was present at the protest replies to Dragnea: First of all, I am a father. I care for the future of my children and of the country

Steven van Groningen, CEO at Raiffeisen Bank, replies in a post on his personal blog to Liviu Dragnea, who said that it seems to him “more than unfair for the president of a foreign bank to protest against the Romanian Government”.

“Last Tuesday, in the evening, one of my children called me by the phone. ‘Dad! Did you hear?’ And he tells me about the GEOs. ‘We’re going out in the street! Dou you come?’

It was late and I let my children to go alone.

On Wednesday, I understood better what it was about. I had 30 guests at home, and many of them rushed to go out in the street. It was late when we arrived, and in the opposite side of the square there were already incidents which the police forces were trying to defuse. So we didn’t stay long. However, I was impressed of what I saw, and we continued to go every evening, with the family.

My presence there is a personal decision. Before being a president of the bank, I am a father and I do care about the future of my children and of the country where I live. I don’t think that from this point of view, there is a difference from those whom I met there – customers, friends, business partners, entrepreneurs, sportsmen, another Olympic champion, employees. As in their case, my wish for a better future for my children, in a more prosperous Romania, is totally legitimate.

I understand that the fact that I care of what happened to Romania, the country where I lived for 20 years, and which is home for me, bothers some people. I saw reactions of indignation at politicians, statements that ‘it isn’t fair’ to be there.

Yes, I am also a president of a bank. In this capacity, I care of the 5,500 Romanian families who depend on the salary from the bank, I care about their future, as well as of the 2 million customers who have entrusted their savings to us, and of the 30,000 companies financed by the bank.

Politicians shouldn’t be surprised by my position. I have the same speech since at least 10 years ago.

To create value, to increase productivity that will allow us to pay higher salaries, we need a performant private sector. Business needs a predictable climate, without important changes in legislation, made over the night. Any change must be discussed with those who are affected, through a wide consultation process. Any legislative proposal must rely on an impact assessment – another law provision which often is not considered by politicians. Business environment needs a reasonable period for the implementation of the laws.

In other words, we need a real dialogue, not just to pretend that we have a dialogue.

Too little has changed in the last 10 years, from this point of view. Dialogue is avoided. Why should we bother with counterarguments, when is much simpler to discredit or insult any critical voice?

Ad hominem is not a good sign when it’s about a democratic process.

I do care. That’s why I was in the street. It was expected that some people will exploit my presence in a totally predictable way. It’s a risk that I assume” wrote on Facebook the head of the bank.

PSD President Liviu Dragnea was indignant after he saw a photo in which Van Groningen was appearing at a protest.

“It seemed to me more than unfair for the president of a foreign bank to protest against the Romanian Government. Maybe he is upset for the commissioning pay law, or for other things we have approved or initiated for the Romanians. Who will pay? Us, Romanians. All the Romanian people will pay for this period” stated the PSD President at Romania TV.


A PNL MP: “He, who fleeced the Romanian state…”


PNL MP Daniel Zamfir, the author of the commissioning pay law, expressed in a Facebook post his anger related to the presence of the Raiffeisen Bank Romania’s President, Steven van Groningen, at the protest organized against the GEO on amending the Criminal Codes and against the Grindeanu Government.

“Do I see right??? Van Groningen is at the protests? Him, the President of Raiffeisen Bank, who made hundreds of millions on the Romanian state’s expense? He, who fleeced hundreds of thousands of Romanians, and who wants to sue Romania at the international courts because of the commissioning pay law, is a protester now???

When will it be a protest where we will yell from the bottom of our chests: JUSTICE, FREEDOM, and STOP THE ABUSES?

I am registering among the organizers since now…” Zamfir wrote on Facebook.


PNL’s Busoi: I think it is too much to extrapolate the presence of Mr. van Groningen’s, who is very attached to Romania, to other conclusions


On the other hand, another PNL leader, Cristian Busoi, defended Raiffeisen President’s presence at the protests: “I didn’t see Mr. Groningen yelling, or wearing placards, or those dolls or signs that have aroused the curiosity and attention of the Romanian and international TV channels. He simply was there among people. He could act like this because he was curious, he could do it peacefully, I think it’s a little bit too much to extrapolate the presence of Mr. van Groningen, who is in Romania since many years, who perfectly speaks Romanian, who is very attached to Romania, to other conclusions” stated Cristian Busoi for DCNews LIVE.

The PNL leader added that, “for his position, he will not enter in any political party. He has a civic option against a Government which is contested by everybody for what it did. It was an anti-Government rally against a decision taken by a Government” Busoi also said.



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