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Key facts of the case:

The applicant was a branch of a credit institution established in Greece authorized in another EU Member State, subject to the supervision of the Bank. The infringements for which the fines at issue were imposed are governed by provisions of general public interest designed to protect investors in their dealings with credit institutions and it is unjustified that, in breach of an essential procedural requirement, the Bank of Greece did not comply with Article 65 L. 3601/2007. The Bank of Greece has been competent to impose sanctions for infringements committed before 1.11.2007 and has correctly applied the provisions of the Code of Conduct on Investment Firms that were in force at that time. Conditions for the application of Article 4 (1) of the 7th Protocol to the ECHR, which enshrines the ne bis in idem principle.

 

The cumulative imposition on the applicant and other fines under consumer protection law and by the Securities and Exchange Commission does not violate the above principle. Imposition of a fine for failing to provide operators with clear information on the services covered by the United Kingdom Investment Guarantee Scheme.

Key legal question raised by the Court:

The application seeks the annulment of the decision of the Committee on Banking and Credit Affairs of the Banking and Credit Issuance Committee dated 290 / 11.11.2009 (issue 13th), imposing on the applicant four fines of a total of two hundred and fifty thousand euro for breaches of the provisions of the Bank of Greece Governor's Act 2501 / 31.10.2002 and the Presidential Decree of the Governor of ......... and of the Code of Conduct for the Investment Firms. It is argued that the contested decision was adopted by an incompetent body, otherwise in breach of an essential procedural requirement. In particular, it is argued that since the applicant was a credit institution which, in accordance with Article 13 of Law 3601/2007, had its registered office in the United Kingdom and a branch in Greece, the provisions of Article 65 of the above law and, therefore, prior to the imposition of the sanctions at issue, had to comply with the procedure and the conditions of this article. According to the applicant, the possibility of circumventing this procedure is not expressly provided for in Law 3601/2007, as provided for in Articles 32 (2), 61 (1) and 69 (1-2) of Law 3606/2007, and it is not sufficient to rely on the general interest clause, which, moreover, does not rely on the contested decision.

Outcome of the case:

The Court ruled that it is justified to impose fines for breaches of the Code of Conduct by reference to historical returns on securities, without pointing out that they do not ensure future prospects, as well as the assessment of investment advisory criteria when processing the questionnaire completed by the customers. For the purposes of setting fines, the legitimate criteria of Article 69 (1) of Law 3601/2007 have been taken into account and the principle of proportionality or the principles of good administration in general have not been violated. The application for annulement was rejected.