CNMC initiates sanctioning proceedings against four banks for possible anti-competitive practices in ICO lending during pandemic

Posted: Wednesday June 16 2021 10:26 AM

The National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) initiated disciplinary proceedings against four banking entities for possible anti-competitive practices. The investigation affects Banco Sabadell, Banco Santander, Caixabank and Bankia, and analyzes the conditions that entities demanded from businesses and independents to contract ICO COVID guarantee lines during the pandemic, as well as the use of credits as a mechanism in the aim of restructuring pre-existing financial debts.

This initiative was launched in 2020 by the government. Concretely, the guarantees were authorized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation last year to facilitate access to credit and liquidity for businesses and the self-employed in order to cope with the economic and social consequences derived from the arrival of COVID-19.

The Commission opened the investigation using information received via the electronic mailbox that this body activated during the state of alert. The objective of this channel: to allow companies and citizens to inform the institution of any anti-competitive practices that took place in the markets.

The behavior would presuppose a distortion of free competition by unfair acts detrimental to the public interest. Precisely, the CNMC believes that the performance of the entities analyzed would be far from the good that we claim to companies in their relations with customers.

The opening of the case takes place under the protection of Article 3 of Law 15/2007 on the Defense of Competition (LDC), in conjunction with Article 4 of Law 3/1991, of January 10, on unfair competition. From now on, a maximum period of 18 months begins for the examination of the file and for its resolution by the CNMC, without the opening of this file prejudging the final result of the investigation.

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