BUDAPEST, Sept 4 Hungary will make banks repay
borrowers by the end of February for loan charges the government
and the courts have found unfair, a top lawmaker of the ruling
centre-right Fidesz party said late on Wednesday.
Fidesz has pushed banks to justify past unilateral contract
changes or repay resulting fees, as well as recalculate
conversions of household loans denominated in foreign
currencies. The fee repayments could cost banks up to 900
billion forints ($3.78 billion US dollar), according to an
estimate by Hungary's central bank.
The country's top court ruled in June that banking practices
had been unfair in some cases and the banks now have one last
chance to challenge the findings.
Antal Rogan, leader of the Fidesz parliamentary group, told
Echo TV that details for the repayments would be worked out by
the government this month, adding that it is likely that
customers will have outstanding loans reduced rather than
receive cash payments.
Reimbursements will begin after the legal challenges have
been concluded, Rogan said, adding that customers' loan
repayments could drop by 25 percent on average.
"I expect that banks will be held to account by February at
the latest," Rogan said.
He said that the courts are likely to uphold previous
decisions and that banks that fail to comply with their legal
obligations will be fined heavily.
Rogan also reiterated that once the 600,000 foreign currency
loan holders are reimbursed, the government will address
forint-denominated loans as well, including general household
loans and car finance.
"Banks will have to account for every penny in every single
contract," he said.
Hungary's top banks are OTP, as well as local
units of Belgium's KBC, Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo
, UniCredit, Austria's Erste and
(1 US dollar = 238.3500 Hungarian forint)
(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by David Goodman)