Credits are more expensive than they should? Lawyers check whether there is any manipulation

Interest rates in Poland increased from 0.1 to 1.25 percent in two months. And if economists are to be believed, the main rate could jump to 1.75% in December, surpassing the pre-pandemic level. For many years before the pandemic, it was 1.5%.

This interest rate has various practical uses, but almost directly and it is most severely felt in the case of millions of Polish borrowers. About 99 percent. of bank customers who repay loans in PLN have installments depending on the variable rate from the interbank market – WIBOR. And this one falls with the decline in NBP interest rates and rises otherwise.

A careful observer can see, however, that the main NBP interest rate is not exactly the same as the WIBOR rate. Currently The 3-month WIBOR is 1.82%, and the 6-month WIBOR is 2.19%. This is by 0.57 and 0.94 percentage points, respectively. higher than the main interest rate at the central bank.

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See also: Money. It counts

This is due to the fact that currently commercial banks borrow money among themselves at a higher cost than the main rate at the National Bank of Poland would suggest. The average calculated from this type of transactions between banks is WIBOR. It was supposed to be a fair solution, showing that the bank expects the client to pay for the borrowed money in the amount that it would like to borrow from another bank.

Everything complies with the regulations. The problem is that on the interbank market there are often periods when banks practically do not conclude transactions with each other, and you still have to set interest rates on loans every day. Same it is sometimes defined more on a discretionary basis, based on the very declarations of banks.

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Will there be lawsuits for WIBOR?

– After the recent increase in interest rates, we started to analyze this issue and I know that lawyers are already preparing to take the first steps to clarify various inaccuracies related to the setting of WIBOR rates – he points out in an interview with money.pl Arkadiusz Szcześniak, president of the Stop Banking Bezprawiu (SBB) association.

WIBOR does not look like it should. It seems absurd to determine the index on the basis of average values ​​that are not there. There are days or months when banks do not lend money among themselves, he notes.

The president of SBB admits that he will not be surprised if WIBOR will grow so strongly that there will be some a suit against the bank for a small amount in connection with the controversy over WIBOR. Who knows how this will go on.

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Bank lawyers calm

Is there another scandal to match that related to Swiss franc loans? There is peace in the banking sector.

– I would not be terribly afraid of it – he says in an interview with money.pl Dr. Piotr Bodył-Szymala, attorney-at-law of the Monitor of Banking Law.

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– Of course, there may be people and lawyers who will question the regulations on WIBOR rates in the future. There is a large group of highly qualified lawyers on the financial market. This can be seen in, for example, cases related to Swiss franc loans. This is their job, so I do not exclude their activity also in this aspect and many others – he adds.

Piotr Bodył-Szymala emphasizes that to the best of his knowledge there is no trace of substantiating the thesis that financial institutions in Poland could or would like to manipulate WIBOR rates.

– Such a suspicion is unfair in itself. History has shown many times that anyone who tried to behave unethically in a regulated market faced the consequencesthat were greater than the potential gains from such activities. The financial services market, especially in the consumer segment, is so heavily regulated and supervised that the probability seems very low, he points out.

It is worth adding that the WSE Benchmark – an entity specially designated for this purpose – is responsible for the administration of the WIBOR rate setting process in Poland. The rates are set according to the method i established by him is subject to strict control.

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And what about the objection that WIBOR is often calculated on the basis of a small number of transactions and quite discretionary declarations by banks?

– There are sometimes more transactions on the interbank market, sometimes a little less. I wish there were as many of them as possiblebecause then the market becomes an even more effective measure of value. But it is what it is – admits the attorney-at-law.

It clearly emphasizes that you cannot, for example, artificially create transactions, because that would be the distortion of the market. It also notes that banks setting WIBOR rates are required to make deposit transactions on the interbank market at these levels.

Piotr Bodył-Szymala argues that WIBOR is an effective tool for determining the value of money over time and has been proven for years. He adds that we do not have a better tool.

– Of course, this does not mean that you cannot look for more effective solutions. However, first someone should put a specific proposal on the table. At the moment, I do not know of any such closed, widely accepted concept that can be seriously discussed, indicates a banking law expert.

Loans without WIBOR

The president of SBB sees it differently. According to Arkadiusz Szcześniak, the solution to the problem of WIBOR and the risk of changes in interest rates for borrowers is simply to offer loans with a fixed interest rate. This is a popular solution in Western Europe.

This type of loan offer is available at banks, but they set a clearly higher interest rate there, which discourages virtually all borrowers.

When there is a choice, for example, a loan with a current (variable) interest rate of 4 percent, then an offer with a fixed interest rate of 6 percent. is almost automatically rejected by customers. It’s just that over time, the interest in the former may grow to 7 percent. (with an increase in interest rates and the WIBOR rate), but hardly anyone thinks about it.

– I have a feeling that banks want to discourage customers from choosing loans with fixed interest rates, imposing much higher interest rates right from the start – emphasizes Szcześniak. It is more convenient for them, because the risk of interest rate changes remains with the client and is not transferred to the bank.

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About Eric Wilson

The variety offered by video games never ceases to amaze him. He loves OutRun's drifting as well as the contemplative walks of Dear Esther. Immersing himself in other worlds is an incomparable feeling for him: he understood it by playing for the first time in Shenmue.

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