Competition Commission officers raid bank HQs over charging practices

Competition Commission officers raid bank HQs over charging practices

Inspectors of Greece's Competition Commission raided the headquarters of the country’s four systemic banks and the Hellenic Bank Association on Thursday, as part of its investigation into possible cartel practices in the imposition of charges, sources said.

To prove collusion by banks, authorities need to find evidence which proves that meetings were held between executives from the four banks who agreed on how to raise fees.

Caving in to government pressure, lenders announced last week they were freezing customer charges for a series of banking services, at least until the end of the year.

Banks had recently hiked their fees on virtually all their services and customers’ transactions in an effort to offset their losses from interest takings, which have been in constant decline over the last few years.

Market sources said there might be evidence of possible cartel practices in the way banks imposed fees on credit cards, cash machine usage, PIN issue and online banking.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had obtained the pledge of the country’s banks to review their policy on charges at a meeting on October 25, noting that “these increases are not justified.”

The head of the country’s Competition Commission, Ioannis Lianos, had told lawmakers from Movement for Change (KINAL) in a meeting on October 18 that the authority had launched an investigation into bank commissions in July.

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