Turkish deputy PM sees "measured" fines in bank rate-setting probe

ISTANBUL, March 4 Mon Mar 4, 2013 5:36am EST

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ISTANBUL, March 4 (Reuters) - Turkey's competition regulator will hand down "fair and measured" fines to lenders found guilty in a rate-setting probe and not all of the dozen banks under investigation will necessarily be affected, the deputy prime minister said.

The Competition Board last week heard defence arguments from a dozen banks accused of collusion in setting loan rates and is expected to announce a final verdict in the coming weeks.

Last August the Board accused the banks of agreeing on maximum deposit rates, the increase in interest rates on credit cards, and the commissions and fees for credit card services.

If found guilty of violating competition rules, they could be fined up to 10 percent of their turnover, although the Board has never applied a sanction of more than 0.5 percent of turnover in previous such cases.

"When you calculate 10 percent of banks' turnover, you get very high numbers ... I believe the Competition Board will be fair and measured," Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan was quoted as saying in several Turkish newspapers on Monday.

"Some of the banks may not even receive fines, that's for the Board to decide," he said, adding that competition rules for banks may need to be changed after the probe is completed.

The banks being investigated by the Board are Denizbank , Finansbank, ING Bank and TEB , Akbank, HSBC's Turkey unit, Halk Bank , Vakifbank, Ziraat Bank, Garanti Bank , Is Bank and Yapi Kredi Bank. (Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Nick Tattersall)

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