Portugal’s banks violated competition rules
The European Commission believes that Portugal’s main banks have violated competition rules for 10 years by sharing information on volumes of credit and spreads that they were applying in a case that has become known as ‘the bank cartel’.
According to Público, the facts have already been proven by the Portuguese Competition Court resulting in the Competition Authority slapping fines of €225 million on 11 of the 14 financial institutions originally involved.
However, the national court had asked the European Court of Justice, which interprets European law in the light of previously know facts, to make a ruling and it is based on their findings that the European Commission made its decision.
The Commission explained that the Competition Court “expressly concluded that the exchange of information had “artificially increased transparency and reduced uncertainty surrounding the strategic behaviour of the competing banks”.
The commission goes even further by recalling that in 2013 the five main banks involved (CGD, BCP, BES, BPI and Santander) “controlled between 75-80% of the banking sector in Portugal, depending on the yardstick used to gauge the position of the institutions.