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    Competition Initiates A File To Santander And Caixabank For ICO Lines

    Competition initiates a file to Santander, Sabadell and CaixaBank for the ICO lines. Investigate the requirement to contract other products to obtain the credits.

    The National Markets and Competition Commission ( CNMC ) has initiated a disciplinary proceedings against Sabadell , Santander and CaixaBank (including Bankia) for possible restrictive practices in the sale of ICO guarantee lines promoted by the Government for aid to SMEs and the self-employed.

    Specifically, the CNMC indicates that it is investigating the link to different products that these banks would have required as a condition for clients to be able to access said financing. It also analyzes the use of credits as a mechanism to restructure existing financial debts.

    Both practices were prohibited by the regulation set by the Government and, in the first weeks, it generated some controversy , since SMEs and the self-employed denounced the requirement by some entities to hire insurance or other products to get loans, which counts with a state guarantee of up to 80%.

    The behaviors analyzed originate from certain information that the CNMC received through a mailbox set up for this purpose . The Commission activated this channel during the state of alarm last year for companies and citizens to inform the institution of possible anti-competitive practices that were taking place in relation to aid against Covid.

    After the analysis carried out, the CNMC considers that the actions of the investigated banks would deviate from the good faith required in their relationships with customers . Consequently, their practices could have altered the economic behavior of consumers who came to these entities to subscribe for ICO credits. According to the CNMC, it could represent a distortion of free competition and would have affected the public interest.

    From now on, a maximum period of 18 months is opened for the investigation of the file and for its resolution, without the initiation of this file prejudging the final result of the investigation.

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