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Banking Association fined HUF 4 bln for cartel activity

Competition

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Hungaryʼs Competition Office (GVH)  fined the Hungarian Banking Association HUF 4 billion and the International Banker Training Center a further HUF 15 million for charges of cartel activity, the competition office announced today, according to Hungarian online daily index.hu.

The competition office fined the association for a database it operated with the involvement of the training center, allowing banks to share business secrets for a period of twelve years, index.hu reported. According to GVH, the database provided too much information, violating both Hungarian and European Union competition rules, index.hu reported.

Up-to-date information in the database included information on the market, market trends, the performance of their competitors, their business policies and strategies. Banks used the information to formulate their own business policies, strategies and product development, Hungarian news agency MTI reported, citing the GVH.

The competition office said that direct responsibility is not attributed to the banks using the database, as the Banking Association was the body making the decision to set up and maintain the system, MTI added. Banks using the database had a combined market share of over 80% in Hungary, According to MTI.

According to index.hu, if the association is not able or does not want to pay the fine, the following banks could be required to pay the fine: Budapest Bank, CIB, Erste, K&H, MKB, OTP, Raiffeisen, UniCredit, Magnetissimo, Banif, Commerzbank, Quaestor, FHB Kereskedelmi Bank, Gránit, KDB, Cetelem, Takarékbank, Sberbank, Merkantil, Porsche, Sopron Bank, Erste Lakástakarék, FHB Jelzálogbank, Fundamenta, OTP Jelzálogbank, OTP Lakástakarék, UniCredit Jelzálogbank, Axa, BNP, Citibank, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and ING. 

According to index.hu, the GVH, for unlisted reasons, excluded Kinizsi bank, Mohácsi Takarékbank, KELER and state-owned MFB and Exim Bank from the list of banks that could be made responsible for paying the fine.

However, MTI reported today that GVH agreed to a request by the Banking Association allowing it to pay the fine in installments as its membership fees do not cover the total cost of the fine.

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