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Raiffeisen Bank International fined by the President of UOKiK. Raiffeisen allegedly misled consumers

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The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) imposed a fine of over PLN 3 million on Raiffeisen Bank International. According to the office, “the bank made an unlawful unilateral change to the mortgage loan agreement in terms of new account numbers for repayment and servicing of loans”. The decision is invalid. Raiffeisen may appeal to the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection.

UOKiK assessed in a Wednesday announcement that the division of Raiffeisen Bank Polska – which took place in November 2018 – “caused complications for holders of mortgage loans indexed or denominated in the Swiss franc”. “Previously, their service was carried out within one bank. Based on the powers of attorney granted when concluding the loan agreement, the bank automatically deducted from the customer’s account the amount necessary to pay the installment or other fees related to the loan. After the merger, the loan remained with RBI (the legal successor of RBP), while the account for its service went to BNP Paribas.

As a result of the division, UOKiK reminded that the so-called core business, i.e. savings and current accounts, was taken over by Bank BGŻ BNP Paribas, currently BNP Paribas Bank Polska. On the other hand, the mortgage business remained with Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) Branch in Poland. “The Polish Financial Supervision Authority stipulated in the conditions for conducting business by RBI in Poland that the merger may not worsen the situation of borrowers, and the solutions used in this connection must comply with applicable regulations and decisions of regulatory authorities in Poland (including the Office of Competition Protection and Consumers).

The Office pointed out that, in accordance with the loan agreement, all its amendments were to be made in writing under pain of nullity. “Meanwhile, in September and October 2018, Raiffeisen Bank International sent letters to borrowers informing that after the merger, two new accounts opened in RBI will be appropriate for servicing loans – one in the currency of the loan to repay the installments (the customer had to convert them himself according to the current the exchange rate), the second in the Polish currency to pay insurance premiums and other fees. Therefore, it made a unilateral amendment to the mortgage loan agreement with consumers” – assessed UOKiK.

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The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection imposed a fine on Raiffeisen Bank International

The President of UOKiK, Tomasz Chróstny, explained that “Raiffeisen Bank International was not entitled to unilaterally amend credit agreements, especially in such an important issue for consumers as the method of loan repayment”. “Such changes should be made with the consent of both parties by way of an annex. Therefore, we decided that the bank was misleading consumers by disseminating false information about new accounts” – indicated Chróstny, quoted in the communiqué.

For violating collective consumer interests, the President of UOKiK imposed a fine of PLN 3,144,864 on Raiffeisen Bank International. The entrepreneur is also to inform consumers about the decision issued.

At the same time, it was announced that the decision is not final. This means that the entrepreneur has the right to appeal to the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection.

Main photo source: kitzzeh / Shutterstock.com



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