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Case detail

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Directive article Article 7 1.
National ID Ombudsman of the Consumer 25th of February 2013 (Νo of protocol 4995)
Country Greece Decision date 25/02/2013
Common name Ombudsman of the Consumer 25th of February 2013 (Νo of protocol 4995) Decision type Other
Court Συνήγορος του καταναλωτή Plaintiff(s) Unknown
Court translation Ombudsman of the Consumer Defendant(s) Bank of Cyprus
Subject investments
Keywords financial servicesmaterial informationmisleading omissionsomissionproduct characteristics

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Headnote

Not providing the consumers with sufficient precontractual information, constitutes an unfair commercial practice.

Facts

The Ombudsman of the Consumer had received several complaints from investors (hereinafter: the plaintiffs) against the defendant, a financial institution, based on misleading precontractual information, during the sale of a convertible bill of enhanced capital.

According to the plaintiffs' claims, they realized the risk that was associated with their investment only after the plaintiff initiated some announcements and undertook some actions as from December 2011. More specifically, the plaintiff announced, among other actions it announced on 15 June 2012 to the investors, that it would cancel the interest payment for those bills.

According to plaintiffs' reports, however, the investment product was promoted by the defendant as a low risk product similar to a privileged deposit of five years duration, with privileged interest and guaranteed capital return at its expiry date.

Plaintiffs also claimed that all precontractual information by the defendant was made orally. The defendant’s actions resulted in the plaintiffs having lost the interest on the capital due to the obligatory cancellation of the interest payment for the year 2012. At the same time, the height of their return on investment depended on future unstable factors not excluding the possibility for investors to lose important part of their initially invested capital.

The defendant replied to these accusations that the plaintiffs participated in this specific bond at their own free will without having received any investment advice from the defendant. Additionally, the defendant replied that the plaintiffs received all legally required informative printouts and leaflets prior to the purchase of the bonds. Moreover, the defendant alleged that the disposal of bonds to the investors through public registration, is not an investment service as the ones mentioned in art. 4 of the law no 3606/2007.

Legal issue

Does not providing the consumers with sufficient precontractual information, constitute an unfair commercial practice?

Decision

The Ombudsman ruled, among others, that the risks analysed in the leaflets referred only to the risks included in a privileged deposit of specific duration. As a result, the comparison of the risks associated with a convertible bill of enhanced capital with those associated with a privileged deposit of specific duration is inaccurate and misleading.

So, the Ombudsman continued, since the employees of the defendant received inadequate and misleading information regarding the products mentioned above, this means that the plaintiffs too would have received the same inadequate and misleading information about those products.

Next, it was also held that the defendant indeed provided investment advice to its clients without taking into consideration their investment profile. Additionally, the defendant did not offer objective and full information in violation of the prerequisites set forth in the law no 3606/2007 regarding the purchase of financial products.
 

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Result

The Ombudsman of the Consumer recommended to the defendant to compensate its clients that had suffered damages, by paying the amounts of capital that they had invested in the titles in question reduced with the already paid interest.

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