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March 31, 2023
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Economy Justice Romanian News

Banks in Romania Investigated for Manipulating Interest Rates

”We are not investigating prices, but whether there were agreements between some actors on the market regarding ROBOR”.

Bogdan Chiritoiu, President of the Competition Council

Yesterday on the 3rd of November, Bogdan Chiritoiu, the President of the Competition Council, stated that his institution is conducting examinations of the country’s biggest banks about the ROBOR Index. To tell it short, ROBOR is the index that calculates the rate at which banks are willing to lend money to other banks. The checks are being made to discover whether some major bank figures made any secret agreements to increase this rate without justifying the real value.

”[…] the analysis of the conclusions will certainly take some time. At the moment, I can only confirm, I understand that it came from the companies, which surprised us, we are not used to companies announcing that they are being investigated by the Competition Council, I don’t know why they did it. In any case, I confirm that since yesterday morning checks have been taking place based on our legal procedures, with judicial authorization”

Bogdan Chiritoiu to the Romanian Parliament

The president of the Competition Council stated that he found some evidence from the market, however mainly self-reported, so he decided to pursue the investigation further and see what actions needed to be taken. He reiterated that the investigation is not about pricing trends and that the Competition Council is aware of the market’s normal fluctuations of the prices and interest rates metrics. Especially now, during the current double-digit inflation when interest rates are involuntarily increasing, the focus is not on their rise per see but rather on whether any market actors have agreed to raise the rate above what is reasonable in this environment.

“If there is evidence of violation of the law, then we will apply sanctions, after giving the companies the opportunity to defend themselves, obviously. If we are not convinced by their defenses, we will apply sanctions like any other company. […]Obviously, during the investigation we will consult with the Regulatory Authority, as they have the best expertise in the Romanian state regarding the banking sector. But the investigation is based on our analysis, it is not related to any notification received from another institution. […] It is not limited to ROBOR, we are also looking at other things”.

Bogdan Chiritoiu, Presdient of Competition Council

It was specified that the investigation will take anything up to two years and if needed possibly even longer than that.

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