ECONOMY

Banks charged with ‘institutionalized’ abuse

The Greek Institute of Financial Research (EIXE) plans to seek recourse with the European Commission over what it calls «institutionalized» illegal and abusive charges by Greek banks which, for businesspeople and consumers, constitute grounds for revoking their operating licenses. EIXE officials told a press briefing yesterday that 92 percent of applications for a rescheduling of ballooning overdue debts – due to compound interest charged by banks – were rejected. EIXE’s chairman Takis Christodoulopoulos said the relevant article, 39, of Law 3259 of 2004 has been found to clash both with the constitution and European legislation and must be replaced, as banks give distorted interpretations and illegally auction sureties provided by their customers. Other officials noted that although courts have halted a number of auctions, the number of suicides among businesspeople has been on the rise. EIXE has sent letters to the prime minister and some of his ministers, listing seven areas in which banks are acting illegally and calling for Article 39 to be revoked. Christodoulopoulos charged that banks have, in the last 20 years, illegally received from the government about 3 billion euros in guarantees for loans received by small manufacturers. EIXE estimates that the number of businesspeople who have illegally been sentenced to prison terms for such debts to the state exceeds 5,000. It further charges that banks, in order to ensure that auctions are effected without delay, use an emergency law of 1923.