Bank of Lithuania
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AB SEB and „Swedbank“, AB paid to the Bank of Lithuania fines imposed in March, EUR 4,488 each, for larger than permitted fees for some cross-border transfers. AB DNB bankas took steps to rectify the violation; therefore, a less severe sanction was imposed on this bank — a warning. Bank customers who make payment transactions in Swedish krona and Romanian leu, should contact their banks regarding incurred losses.

The Bank of Lithuania has conducted an inspection and identified that SEB, Swedbank and DNB bankas violated the legal requirements of the European Union (EU) in relation to cross-border payments. These three banks applied larger fees for cross-border transfers in Swedish krona than is allowed. In addition, SEB and Swedbank were found to have violated the requirements for cross-border transfers in Romanian leu.

During the inspection it was identified that banks charged higher fees (ranging from EUR 1.45 to EUR 4.34) for cross-border transfers in the above-named currencies than for domestic transfers in the respective currencies, despite this being prohibited.

According to EU legal requirements, banks must charge the same fee for transfers in euro among the countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) as for domestic payments. Sweden and Romania have been exercising their right as EU Member States to apply relevant terms and conditions to payments in their national currencies; therefore, the aforementioned requirements apply to payments in Swedish krona and Romanian leu as well. This means that transfers in these currencies among EEA countries cannot be more expensive than respective domestic transfers in Swedish krona or Romanian leu.

The Board of the Bank of Lithuania imposed fines of EUR 4,488 each on two banks for the violations mentioned above and one bank received a warning. Under the Law on Payments, currently the maximum fine for such a violation can amount to EUR 8,688, minimum— EUR 289. When imposing a specific fine, the extenuating or aggravating circumstances laid down in the said Law, nature, duration and scope of the violation are taken into account. The average fine, as provided in this Law, was imposed on SEB and Swedbank, while a less severe sanction was imposed on DNB bankas — a warning, as the bank had taken steps to rectify the violation already in mid-2015.

Seeking greater correlation between fines for violations in the sphere of payments and the scope of violation and damage for customers, as early as last year the Bank of Lithuania submitted amendments to the Law on Payments, which provide for tighter enforcement measures for potential offenders. Should the provisions submitted by the Bank of Lithuania be approved, fines in the amount of up to 2 per cent of annual income could be imposed on commercial banks and other payment service providers. The Bank of Lithuania’s amendments have been submitted together with the provisions transposing the requirements of the Payment Accounts Directive, favourable to users, to Lithuanian law. The amendments to the Law on Payments will be approved by the Seimas during its spring session.