After Rolling Back Fees, Greek Banks Probed for Collusion

(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – Greece’s four major banks, who reversed fees and hikes after meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, were raided by inspectors from the competition commission probing whether the institutions were working like a cartel.

That included an unprecedented surprise audit at the headquarters of all four, reports citing the confiscation of documents, hard drives and other data, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki of the move.

Other reports indicated there was an investigation underway over where the hikes in fees added on to a variety of routine bank transactions – such as printing a deposit’s balance from an ATM – were coordinated and agreed to by the banks acting in collusion.
While the hikes were rolled back, the banks said that didn’t mean they wouldn’t be reinstituted at some point although they backed down after Mitsotakis squeezed them

Mitsotakis said “the government cannot possibly accept these increases,” and called them “unjustified, especially in a financial climate that is much better,” according to a briefing by the premier’s office, the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency ANA-MPA reported earlier.

His office office said that bankers justified the rise as a way of encouraging the use of e-banking, in which they had invested heavily. They first committed however to review the fee hikes, especially in remote locations where there is a single ATM for use by local residents before saying they wouldn’t be imposed, at least for now.