BUSINESS IN SHORT

Antitrust office probes three Slovak banks for alleged cartel agreement

THE ANTITRUST Office (PMÚ) has opened administrative proceedings against three major banks because of a suspected violation of the law on protecting economic competition.

THE ANTITRUST Office (PMÚ) has opened administrative proceedings against three major banks because of a suspected violation of the law on protecting economic competition.

The regulator's division that investigates agreements restrictive to competition is probing whether Slovenská Sporiteľňa (SLSP), ČSOB and VÚB Banka violated the law by mutually agreeing to terminate the current accounts of Akcenta CZ without explanation, PMÚ spokesperson Alexandra Bernáthová informed the SITA newswire on September 19.

Akcenta CZ, a Czech financial company, accused the banks in late February of attempting to push it off the market. SLSP, ČSOB and VÚB Banka closed the company's accounts in the summer 2007 without explanation. Akcenta argues accused the banks of abusing their position on the market and stifling competition. Initially, UniCredit Bank also intended to close the Akcenta CZ’s accounts, but dropped the plan.

The three banks rejected the accusation at that time. SLSP spokesman Štefan Frimmer stated in late February that the bank has the right to terminate an account in a written notice at any time, even without explanation, pursuant to account agreements.

Court proceedings between ČSOB and Akcenta ended in January 2008 when a court sided with the bank and confirmed that the termination complied with the law.

At the end of February, VÚB Banka spokeswoman Alena Walterová denied the existence of a cartel agreement.


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