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Commercial Banks In Romania Not Letting Go Of Their Bad Practices

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Autor: Daniela Ivan 17 Sep 2010 - 00:00
Monday is the last day Romanians may reach the bank clerks to file their disagreement with the reading commercial banks gave to a new law which makes applicable EU legislation regarding the calculus of interest rates and fees levied by the banks.

Though Emergency Ordinance 50 was allegedly designed to help clients, it turned against them, as banks cunningly exploited the language of the law, which makes it so that no explicit disagreement from clients reads as implicit approval of the banks' changed terms of the signed contracts.

A piece of legislation that was supposed to enhance the transparency of the banks' operations was turned around by banks to carry blindfolded clients into more onerous deals.

Case in point: when reaching the bank tellers' desk, clients are prompted to sign contracts agreeing to an interest rate based on a fixed rate, tied to the EURIBOR/ROBOR/LIBOR interbank interest rates. But they are not told that, when this baseline would drop in the future, their interest rates would not, as the contracts stipulate that the interest rate would stay fix for the whole duration of the contract.

Another murky issue is the banks attempt to make part of the revised contracts a fee for non-specified services.
The Authority for the Consumers' Protection says banks have to specify each fee for what service is levied, while banks beg to differ and do not comply with the request.

Most banks also made part of the contracts a new clause which adds two percentage points to the penalizing rate in case the client looses his or her job, goes on a paid sick-leave, has his or her salary slashed by 15% or gets divorced.
This attitude does not make any economic sense, stated the President of the Competition Council Bogdan Chiritoiu. "The bankers would rather choke their clients to death than help them live to pay their loans back," he said.
Chiritoiu noted that the banks' attitude may be prompted by their estimation that few clients would take them to court, and that the continental type of law does not use court rulings as source of law, hence it would take a long while till the judiciary will unify its practice.

His estimate was quite to the contrary: that a lot of clients will take their banks to court and shop around carefully on the banking market, before settling for one.
Translated by AAP
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