Four US rating agencies give Triple-A credit ratings to a bankrupt bank?
On Friday 22 April 2022, the Amsterdam District Court, at the request of Amsterdam Trade Bank N.V. (ATB) and after hearing the Nederlandsche Bank N.V., declared ATB bankrupt. Declaring the bankruptcy means that a trustee has been appointed to wind up the Trade Bank and to represent the interests of the creditors and savers. The “Directie Financiële Markten” of the Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands informed about this.
If you search for this bank on Google three days later and want to know the credit rating, you will surprisingly find the following search result on Google:
“Ratings are an indicator of Amsterdam Trade Bank’s creditworthiness and security. … How secure is the Amsterdam Trade Bank?”
What follows is bound to mislead every investor, as Google consistently lists AAA (Triple A) credit ratings from all the leading US rating agencies.
Google reportedly gets this information from a website in German with the domain “Kritische Anleger”, in English “Critical Investors”:
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If you continue to search for this allegedly triple-A-rated bank, encouraged by the AAA credit ratings reported by Google, you will find what you are looking for at the respected German foundation Stiftung Warentest. A message from Stiftung Warentest contributes to the confusion: “Amsterdam Trade is now called FIBR-Bank” (“Amsterdam Trade heißt jetzt FIBR-Bank“).
FIBR is only a trading name of Amsterdam Trade Bank N.V. The risk of doing business with this bank, in particular giving money in the form of deposits, remains unaffected by this renaming. If you go to the FIBR website, you will not find any reference to the insolvency that has already occurred, only friendly smiling faces inviting you to deposit savings at this bank.
In fact, on October 23, 2015, the rating agency Moody’s not only downgraded the bank from an already speculative rating deeper to “junk level”, but even withdrew the rating:
Moody’s Investors Service has today downgraded Amsterdam Trade Bank N.V.’s local- and foreign-currency long-term deposit ratings to B2 from Ba3, as well as the bank’s baseline credit assessment (BCA) to caa3 from b2. The adjusted BCA was downgraded to b3 from b1. The outlook on the long-term deposit ratings is negative.
Following this rating action, Moody’s will withdraw Amsterdam Trade Bank’s ratings for its own business reasons.Moody’s Investors Service, October 23, 2015
So the question remains why Google’s search engine shows top credit ratings from the US credit rating agencies for the Russian-run bank in the Netherlands.