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Last updated at 18:18 BST, Monday, 20 September 2010

French banks fined for fee cartel


20 September 2010

Eleven of the biggest banks in France have been fined a total of 384 million euros by the competition authority for fixing amongst themselves a price they charge for handling cheques.

Jonty Bloom


Click to hear the report:


In 2002, banks in France introduced a new commission charge of 4.3 cents for every cheque they handled because of the speeding up of the cheque-processing system.

The banks argued that the faster system, rather than being more efficient and saving them money, actually meant that they had to release funds to customers more quickly, and therefore could not make as much money in interest payments themselves while waiting for the cheques to clear.

But the competition authority has now decided that the commission charges were unjustified and that the banks illegally acted together to fix the rate that they all charged. The banks have a month to appeal.

Jonty Bloom, BBC News, London


Click to hear the vocabulary:


commission charge

amount of money charged for handling goods, based on the value of the goods


a piece of paper that you can sign to pay for things, instead of using money

cheque-processing system

process of moving money from one account to another


expressed their reasons


effective or able to work without problems


amounts of money


people who pay to use a company's services


charge made for borrowing money


not fair

to fix

to arrange dishonestly

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