David against Goliat: 100.000 citizens win 8 Croatian Banks

Posted on 04/03/2016 · Posted in Courts, Croatia
  • This veredict is considered “historical” due to the fact that 100.000 citizens and their associations, supposedly with less strength and capacity, have won eight of the most important Croatian banks.

  • The eight commerical banks have been bound to give the money back to their clients, as they must also pay the amount of 61.000 euros due to all the trial costs.

In Croatia the warmest month of the year is July, especially in the capital Zagreb that can reach up to 30 degrees. These moderate temperatures are due to the fact that the city is protected by a mountain range that does not allow extreme temperatures. A few years ago, more specifically in 2013, the reason why these banks were sweating and blushing, was not because of the climate. It was not the sun that was burning, but more the sense of justice that was imposed on them. There was no longer mountains, laws or anything that could protect them and let them go on with impunity. The 4 of July of 2013 100.000 citizens managed to condemn eight of the most influential banks of Croatia, prooving their negligence and forcing them to return the clients money as also paying the amount of 61.000 euros that represent the cost of the trial.

The consumers of these bank products are able to make eight of the most important commercial banks assume they are responsible of the citizens debts since they there had been an improper placemnt of the products. These banks are: UniCredit – Zagrebacka Banka, Intensa SanPaolo – Privrendha Banka Zagreb, Erste Bank, Raiffeisenbank, Hypo Alpeadria Bank, OTP Bank Societe Generale – Splitska Banka and Sberbenk (Ex Volksbank).

The judge Mr. Radovan Dobronic sentenced in first instance that the veredict of the trial was going to be in favor of the victims. He also sentenced that the banks acted againts “The Consumers Protection Law”, when they purposely disinformed the clients that were acquiring the mentioned product of the risks that they were assuming. When the clients aquired their loans they were told that the best way to pay less in interest was paying the mentioned in Swiss-Franc. They also claimed that if they were to use the national coin, the Kuna, they would end up paying more, devaluing their own coin. The problem was when the theoretical risk became real. The Swiss-franc, due to the fluctuations and unpredicitability, changed its market value making the refund fees much higher that it would have been in any case.

The clients that had obtained the quotes of their mortgages in Swiss-francs now were obliged to pay more, due to the modification of the coins value. The clients cannot be blamed, since they were only informed of the alleged benefits, and never managed such capacity or information to foresee the mentioned situation. Most clients assert that if they would have known there was a possibility of the having to pay more than the established and also initial amount, the would have never purchased the mentioned bank products in Swiss-francs.

Thanks to the mentioned above, the Croatian banks did not just have to return the money, but the were also obliged to establlish a fixed interest rate. This rate is binding to the domestic rate, the croatian Kuna, issued at the begining of the loan. Since the banks apparently are not able to inform about the risks and problems that happen, it is much needed for them in this instance to not be able to exert product placement.

The Croatian banks, as obviously all the banks, have the capacity and knowledge to know or be able to predict how much the interest rates can change, despite if it is positive or negative. The Croatian Banks made unilateral decisions, without the consent of the customers as they also decided conceal certain information to make their products more attractive. The judge clearly has ruled that this behaviour is “unacceptable” and “must never happen again”. Thanks to the victories, fresh air is finally making its way through. Fresh air that smells like justice, and even more on a hot summer day.

“FX Loans in Europe” is a series of articles written by ASUFIN collaborators or news release explaning the commercialization of these type of Morgages and the current situation in other european countries.