The Turkish Competition Authority (the "TCA") finalized its investigation of the Turkish Banking sector on March 8th that was initiated in November, 2011. The seriousness of the alleged infringements, and the economic sizes of the investigated parties allowed the Competition Law academia and practice to expect substantial fines to be imposed. The TCA did not fail the experts in this expectation and imposed record-high pecuniary fines on the 12 biggest banks in Turkey. The fines total 1.1 billion Turkish Liras, which is equal to more than EUR 475 Million. The fines ranged from 0.3 % to 1.5% of the gross revenue of the undertakings that were generated in 2011.
The TCA investigated whether:
- The maximum of the deposit interest rates and the increases in the credit rates are being set by the banks in coordination;
- The commercial banks are engaged in price coordination through the exchange of information on the intended change in interest rates;
- The commercial banks were in an agreement as to the amount of the commisssions and service fees to be applied on credit card transactions; and
- The publicly owned banks are engaged in coordinated bidding in the tenders for the public deposits.
The Turkish Competition Authority (the "TCA") finalized its investigation of the Turkish Banking sector on March 8th that
The short decision of the TCA states that the evidence suggests that the banks infringed Competition Law in deposit, credit and credit card-related service areas. Further details on the reasons will be issued in the coming months with the grounded decision of TCA.
According to the short decision, the TCA did not classify the infringements as a "cartel," in which case the fines would have been substantially higher.
The decision of the TCA is subject to the review of the Administrative Courts of Ankara. Until the summer of 2012, TCA decisions were subject to the review of the Council of State, which built substantial jurisprudence on Competition Law cases. The recent Banking Decision of the TCA provide the opportunity for the Administrative Courts of Ankara to demonstrate their competence in competition law matters.