Thursday, July 9, 2009

Latvia: sell your soul for cash

A local loan company is getting a lot of international attention, not because it is new on the scene at a time when many loan companies would sooner leave, but because it requires one simple piece of collateral, your soul.

The widely publicized company Kontora is headed by Viktor Miroshenko age 34, the face of Kontora, which offers loans from 50-500 lats (700 euros) to residents of Latvia, requiring only a first name and a signature for the contract, no documents necessary.

The two month old Kontora does not use debt collectors to collect on those who have borrowed money, the threat of soullessness is enough.

“If they don't give it back, what can you do? They won't have a soul, that's all,” Miroshenko told Reuters.

The company offers loans at extremely high interest rates of 354 percent and higher per year. Kontora provides clients with short term loans, the interest of which is one percent per day beginning after three days from the start of the loan.

Miroshenko said that over the last two months, approximately 200 persons have taken out loans.

Despite the secrecy of the location, (clients have to email to request an amount and are then invited to the office) the company has yet to receive any complaints from clients, says Sanita Gertmane, agent of the Consumer Rights Protection Center in Latvia (PTAC).

“Of course from a humanistic standpoint, it is more than strange,” said Gertmane.

However, the idea of soul collateral is angering the local clergy in Catholic, Lutheran and Orthodox sects, who criticized the company for using fear to force people to pay their loans.

In a joint statement, the clergy wrote: “"We do not know what are the lenders' motives for requiring such kind of collateral. Maybe they are absolutely cynical financiers, who to use people's fear of losing their souls as the best way to secure their profits. Maybe there are religious motives behind this - satanism, occultism or something like that - intended to ruin people's souls, making use of their desperate condition,"

The religious leaders warned that such a contract goes against the word of god and even non-religious people should think of the consequences.

Source: The Baltic Times

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