The National Markets and Competition Commission announced this Wednesday that it has initiated a sanctioning proceeding against Banco Sabadell, Banco Santander, Caixabank and Bankia, the latter already absorbed by the former, due to possible restrictive practices of competition in the commercialization of the ICO guarantee lines for companies to face the effects of the pandemic.
Specifically, the CNMC is investigating the link to different products that the banks would have demanded as a condition for clients to be able to access the guarantee lines, which was prohibited by the Government. In addition, it is analyzed whether these credits, which are largely guaranteed by the State, were used to restructure pre-existing financial debts.
The supervisory body already opened an investigation in September regarding the possibility that some entities were forcing the contracting of linked products as alarms in order to access these credits. The CNMC explains that it received information through the mailbox set up for this matter, so that companies could inform the body chaired by Cani Fernández about possible anti-competitive practices.
After the analysis carried out, the CNMC explains that it considers that the actions of the investigated banks “would deviate from the good faith required of companies in their relationships with customers.” Consequently, their practices “could have altered the economic behavior of consumers who went to these entities to subscribe for ICO credits.” All of this could amount to a “distortion of free competition and would have affected the public interest.”
Now a period of 18 months opens with the initiation of this file for the CNMC to advance in the investigation and in the resolution of the same. As is usual, the agency recalls that “the initiation of this file does not prejudge the final result of the investigation.”