Penalty of almost 13.5 million for Getin Noble Bank
The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has found that Getin Noble Bank (GNB) used illegal clauses in template annexes to agreements concerning mortgages indexed to Euro and Swiss franc exchange rates. UOKiK imposed a penalty on the company of almost PLN 13.5 million.
The disputed clauses concerned the method of setting exchange rates. The Bank uses them to convert the amount of loans indexed to Euro or Swiss franc rates and to calculate the amount of individual instalments. GNB used the “Reuters market exchange rate” as the basis for setting its rates. This is an imprecise phrasing. It appears from the explanations received from GNB during the proceedings that this refers to the professional, paid-for service provided by Thomson Reuters. However, consumers do not know this, nor do they have access to it.
„As a result, borrowers are not able to check on their own whether the bank sets exchange rates and calculates instalments correctly. Therefore, there is a risk that GNB may set them arbitrarily and in a way that is unpredictable for consumers”, says Marek Niechciał, President of UOKiK.
In one of the clauses, the bank also reserves the right to change the fixed exchange rate in the event of high market fluctuations during the day. Consumers are not able to verify the validity of such actions nor respond to them. Moreover, there is a risk that the bank may only use this power if it is beneficial to the bank, i.e. if the exchange rate rises sharply.
In addition to the penalty, UOKiK imposed an obligation on Getin Noble Bank to inform all interested consumers about the decision. From the information provided they will learn that the prohibited clauses are not binding for the parties and should be treated as if they were not present in the annex to the agreement.
A year ago, UOKiK issued a similar decision with regard to Deutsche Bank Polska - for prohibited clauses concerning the method of setting exchange rates, imposing a fine of PLN 7 million. The Office is conducting such proceedings against 7 other banks: Raiffeisen Bank International AG, BGŻ BNP Paribas, Santander Bank Polska, Bank Millennium, PKO BP, BPH, Pekao SA.