THE COUNCIL of the Antitrust Office (PMÚ) has upheld a fine for ČSOB bank, a decision the office issued last October. The bank will have to pay nearly €3.2 million for its participation in a cartel agreement on non-cash foreign exchange operations. The decision became valid on April 11, the SITA newswire reported.

“We take note of the decision, but do not identify with it,” ČSOB spokesperson Zuzana Eliášová said, as quoted by SITA, adding they consider their next steps.

The case pertains to a dispute between three Slovak banks (ČSOB, Slovenská Sporiteľňa and VÚB) and Czech company Akcenta from 2007. The banks allegedly signed a cartel agreement based on which they coordinated their steps regarding the termination of contracts with Akcenta and agreed they would not sign any new contracts with the firm. Akcenta subsequently accused the banks of trying to push it out from the foreign exchange market through unethical means. The Czech firm also said the banks abused their position in the market and hindered their possible rivals in entering the Slovak market, SITA wrote.

In its actual decision the PMÚ dealt only with the participation of ČSOB in the agreement, since the Supreme Court had already issued decisions for the other two banks. The court dismissed their complaints and confirmed the PMÚ’s verdict from 2009. Slovenská Sporiteľňa was fined €3.2 million and VÚB €3.8 million, as reported by SITA.