Fine set at $2.7 billion for 12 'rate-fixing' banks
Turkey's Competition Authority (RK) announced on Monday that it would seek to issue a collective fine worth TL 4.8 billion ($2.7 billion) in the case of 12 Turkish banks, which the RK is investigating on charges of colluding on loan interest rates.

The 12 banks, which include the country's four largest banks Akbank, Garanti Bank, İş Bankası and Ziraat Bankası, allegedly agreed to cooperate and set interest rates as high as 14 percent for customers. An RK report earlier this month alleged that the banks also offered lower interest rates to members of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD), whose members allegedly secured loans for rates as low as 7 percent. The 14 percent interest rate that the banks allegedly set approached the upper end of the government's interest rate corridor, and though the number is not illegal, the collusion between banks to keep the rate at an upper limit is strictly against the country's banking regulations.

If the RK investigation finds the banks guilty, it will not be the first time the RK has fined some of the country's largest banks. In 2011, the RK fined Akbank, Garanti, İş Bankası, VakıfBank, Yapı Kredi, DenizBank and Finansbank a collective TL 72.3 million ($40.68 million) over a similar collusion agreement.

The fine comes as the country's strongest banks find themselves faced with increasing levels of competition as a growing number of foreign banks apply for banking licenses in the country. Among them are the Japanese Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Italian retail bank Intesa Sanpaolo and Egypt's Banque Misr.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-27 20:00:01
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