BNP PARIBAS sentenced to return millions of euros

Posted on 28/02/2020 · Posted in Articles, France, News

This past Wednesday, February 26, BNP Paribas Personal Finance has been condemned to pay the maximum fine possible, 187.500€, plus tremendous damages, for covering the risks induced by its loans inherent in the Helvet Immo mortgage. This scam has affected more than 4,600 borrowers.

BNPP, which is the main credit subsidiary of BNP Paribas, created in 2008, a mortgage loan considered to be of high-risk, denominated in Swiss francs but repayable in euros.


BNPP, also known in France under the Cetelem brand, has been sanctioned “guilty of deceptive marketing practice” and of “Concealment” of this offense for the distribution, in 2008 and 2009, of these high-risk loans.

The amounts owed by the bank add up to tens of millions of euros in damages, with different damages depending on the borrowers. For instance, two consumer associations, civil parties, each obtained more than one million euros for the harm to the collective interest of consumers.

The court also decided to provisionally apply its decision with the “payment of damages awarded”. A measure that forces the bank to actually pay these quantities even if they finally decide to appeal.

The decision was received with a deafening applause by those in attendance. The borrowers, showed a great sigh of relief listening to the court’s verdict. According to a young retiree, most of them, even smiled or wiped a tear.

Hiding an “incredible” financial risk

By the end of November, after three weeks of a trying hearing, the ruined savers had demanded “a dissuasive penalty” against BNP Paribas Personal Finance, a 100% subsidiary of the leading French bank. They accused the bank of having concealed them “an incredible financial risk”, present in the Helvet Immo loan, and were positively heard by the courts.

The particularity of this loan, marketed in 2008 and 2009 by a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, is that it is denominated in Swiss francs but repayable in euros. The outcome of this was clearly negative: soon after the financial crisis, the euro stalled against the Swiss currency, having more than 4,600 borrowers asking for the amounts to be reimbursed. Many of them still owe more capital than the amount borrowed while paying for more than ten years. Out of these 4,600 borrowers, more than half took legal action at the trial.

The bank, which refutes any illegal practice, had pleaded for release. Their lawyers did not comment on the decision or indicate whether they intended to appeal.