Competition Commission fines Greek banks 41.7 million euros for concerted practices

The Competition Commission late Thursday imposed fines totalling 41.7 million euros on five Greek banks, including four systemic ones, and the Hellenic Bank Association. The penalties were related to concerted practices in interbank systems, payment, and electronic transaction services.

As part of the ruling, the banks were mandated to reduce the Direct Access Fee (DAF) by January 1, 2024. This fee pertains to transactions where customers use their cards to withdraw money from ATMs belonging to other banks. The Commission further directed the banks to maintain the lower fee for a three-year period. Additionally, a separate statement from the Commission clarified that the fee adjustment also applied to tourists using foreign bank cards at ATMs in Greece, with the fee being lowered to 2 euros as of January 1.

The nearly 42 million euros in fines resulted from a settlement. The individual fines for the banks are as follows: Alpha Bank (9.1 million euros), Eurobank (7.9 million), National Bank (9.9 million), Piraeus Bank (12.9 million), and Attica Bank (143,182 euros). The Hellenic Bank Association received a fine of 1.5 million euros and proposed the implementation of an internal due diligence program within six months of the decision’s publication, which the Commission accepted.

Effective January 1, the adjusted DAF pricing for the banks is as follows:

Alpha Bank: up to 1.80 euros from the current 2.50
Attica Bank: up to 1.50 euros from the current 2.00
Eurobank: up to 1.80 euros from the current 2.50
National Bank: up to 1.90 euros from the current 2.60
Piraeus Bank: up to 2.00 euros from the current 3.00

Development Minister Kostas Skrekas commented on the decision, stating that the fines “confirm the state’s determination, through any of its institutional agencies, to conduct continuous inspections for the implementation of legislation. Inspections will persist, and interventions will be immediate and effective when required, benefiting citizens and ensuring the smooth operation of the market at all levels.” [AMNA]

Reporting by Kathimerimi, 22nd December 2023