The UOKiK punished three banks for not specifying the rules for setting the exchange rates by which loan instalments are converted. The criteria for setting currency spreads used by BNP Paribas, Millennium and Santander were unclear. According to UOKiK, the rules for setting exchange rates by banks should be precise, so that consumers can check that they are not paying too much to exchange money to repay a loan.
The sanctioned banks set exchange rates based on the average exchange rate in the interbank market, which was not defined anywhere. The source of the rate setting given by these institutions is not available to consumers.
Imprecise provisions in credit agreements
In addition to the lack of a precise indication of the source of exchange rates, BNP Paribas used in addition the value of the purchase Adjustment Factor (JCC) and the sales adjustment factor (JCS), which, in the opinion of the UOKiK, were too vague and imprecise.
There is a provision in Bank Millennium’s contracts informing consumers that the purchase and sale rate from the Foreign Exchange Rate table may deviate from the base rate by no more than 10%. At Santander, the rate could not deviate by more than 1 per cent. from a course seen by Reuters. BNP Paribas declined to comment. that the currency spread must not be more than 10 per cent. the average market exchange rate. It is because of such practices that many people choose to exchange their own currencies to repay their credit through online exchange bureaus such as Cinkciarz or currency exchange.
All of these records were imprecise, as none of the banks mentioned indicated how the buy-and-sell rate deviations were determined. Consumers should, in the opinion of the UOKiK, have the right to independently assess the reliability of the calculation of the exchange rate by the bank. In the case of these loan agreements, this was very difficult. In addition, institutions did not specify when and how many times a day they publish their exchange rate tables. As a result, consumers may have doubted whether the bank was imposing negative rates on them.
Fines for BNP Paribas, Millennium and Santander Bank Poland
For these practices, the president of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny imposed the following penalties:
BNP Paribas – £ 26,625,686
Millennium Bank – £ 10,464,213
Santander Bank Polska-PLN 23,634,055
In addition to financial penalties, banks are to notify their customers of the authority’s decision. The unauthorised provisions of the agreements are now non-binding and should be treated as if they are not at all. Consumers can claim as a result of the decision. The decision is not final, meaning banks can appeal it to the court.
These are not the first penalties of their kind. Deutsche Bank Polsk and Getin Noble Bank have already been fined in similar cases. Raiffeisen Bank International, PKO BP, BPH and Pekao SA are also under investigation.