Consumer agency says it won case backing Banco Nacional fine

The consumer protection agency says that Banco Nacional has lost its legal fight to avoid being fined for stonewalling a monopoly investigation.

The agency, the Comisión para Promover la Competencia, said it fined Banco Nacional 10 million colons, about $20,000 because the bank officials would not provide the data the agency sought.

The commission is part of the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio.

Banco Nacional officials challenged the fine in court and raised a number of issues, including that providing the information would violate bank secrecy.
The commission said Friday that the bank lost as have other entities that raised many of the same issues before the Sala IV constitutional court. Banco Nacional took the 2010 fine to the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo and later to the Sala Primera of the Corte Suprema de Justicia.

The commission was investigating bank practices of tie-in loans where a customer only could receive a loan if there was an agreement to use other bank services.

There was no statement in the release from the commission that Banco Nacional actually was guilty of such practices, just that bank officials did not want to surrender documents.

The legal appeal centered on the commission’s right to seek such information. The right to impose a fine is contained in the law that created the agency.

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