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Friday 21.09.2018 | Name days: Matīss, Modris, Mariss

Competition Council fines 22 banks 5.5 million lats for cartel

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

The Competition Council of Latvia (CC) has imposed 22 commercial banks a 5.5 million lats fine for fixing commission payments on ATM services and credit card payments, the CC representative Inita Kabanova told the business portal

Swedbank is fined 2.83 million lats, Citadele bank – 1.22 million lats, SEB bank – 558 744 lats, Latvijas Krājbanka – 259 006 lats, DnB NORD Bank – 167 466 lats, Nordea Bank Finland Plc Latvia branch – 158 401 lats, Rietumu Bank – 103 927 lats, GE Money Bank – 79 408 lats, Latvijas Hipotēku un zemes banka (The Mortgage and Land Bank of Latvia) – 55 594 lats, Norvik bank – 25 227,5 lats, Aizkraukles bank – 15 491 lats, PrivatBank – 5 486 lats, UniCredit Bank – 5 435 lats, Danske Bank Latvia branch – 2 688 lats, Baltic International Bank – 2 680 lats, Trasta komercbanka – 2 596 lats, SMP Bank – 2 022 lats, Akciju komercbanka Baltikums – 1 364 lats, Reģionālā investīciju banka – 1 274.5 lats, AS Latvijas Biznesa bank – 728 lats, LTB Bank – 500 lats and VEF bank – 500 lats.

The cartel was in force from December 1, 2002, up to January 7, 2011, yet the time of each bank taking part in it differs.

The CC indicates there is a payment cards system in Latvia, ensuring credit card payments. Its costs are largely covered by traders accepting payment cards. However, the probe discovered traders payment was directly dependent on interbank payments.

Interbank payments reached 75% of payments applied to traders in case of debit cards and 100% in case of credit cards. Thus this illegal agreement among banks on interbank payments has damaged competition, allowing banks not to fight for new clients – traders – attraction by applying lower commission payments.

The CC concludes the interbak payment and, respectively, also the one applied to traders has not been economically grounded and it was not adjusted to the changing market and smaller banks expenditure. Alongside with a growing number of bank card payments resulting in banks revenue, the payment had to drop to prevent its negative impact on the competition. However, the payment had remained flat during all these more than eight years.

While if there had been no local agreement among all the banks and certain bilateral agreements, banks would have had to apply international payment card organizations Visa and MasterCard interbank payments conditions, which all in all were not higher, even falling below the ones set by banks in Latvia at some points.

The cartel has resulted in a damaged competition, which would have ensured consumers lower commission payments for withdrawing cash or viewing balance sheets in ATMs of other banks. This was especially important at an early stage of the agreement in 2002, when there were less non-cash payments, moreover, the number of bilateral agreements between banks was smaller as well, while currently it allows buying certain services cheaper or receiving them free of charge.

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  1. Arnolds says:

    All of Latvians should bring these so called bankers to trial to have thier money back This is what I am going to do at European level.

  2. Gunnar_H says:

    Good that such measures were imposed.

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