The banks reach agreements with BC to pay 135 million reais to customers and public funds for irregularities

The financial institutions sanctioned by the Central Bank in 2022 due to various irregularities will have to pay a total of 135 million reais to the public coffers and to the customers concerned. Recorded practices range from undue interest on overdrafts to failures in procedures to prevent money laundering and combat the financing of terrorism.

Just as a pecuniary contribution (an amount that goes to the government and represents a form of compensation for banks, cooperatives and other entities for the offenses committed), it will be R$ 53.8 million. The amount is 8.6% higher (in nominal terms) than that collected in 2021, when the BC signed almost double the terms of commitment with the institutions: there were 12 in 2022, compared to the 23 agreements signed in the previous year.

The peak was recorded in 2020, when a single institution paid more than 70% of the total R$ 126.5 million in financial contributions. The agreement concerned issues such as the communication of atypical transactions to the Coaf (Council for the control of financial activities).

That year, there was an increase in bank transactions during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the increased use of digital channels and government programs (such as emergency relief).

The BC prefers not to attribute the reduction in 2022 to a specific reason, but says the oversight work has proved “fairly successful” in resolving the issues. “Many factors influence the signing of the terms of engagement, which are always proposed by the regulated institutions, analyzed by the CB and, where appropriate, signed between the parties,” he says.

At a rally on the five-year law that provides for the administrative sanctioning process in the BC’s areas of action, in November, Attorney General Cristiano Cozer stressed that the term of commitment is an administrative contract, without the formation of a judgment as to guilt of the financial institution and which does not reach the criminal sphere.

“It is a method of consensual resolution of a conflict. It allows a solution to be reached through a consensus between the parties, without there being a dispute. It has an advantage in terms of efficiency, it allows for a solution that is directed to the problem,” he said .

“If there is an irregular charge of a fee, opening a sanctioning administrative proceeding does not result in the fee being returned. Having a commitment term, you sort it out and sort it out wholesale,” he added.

According to data from BC, 81.1 million reais must be reimbursed to users for agreements signed in 2022. Santander’s share alone corresponds to the reimbursement of 79 million reais to customers for infractions such as violating interest collection rules in credit card overdraft and installment transactions.

According to the bank, approximately 90% of the amounts charged have already been reimbursed and “the points that led to the signing of the commitment term have been definitively resolved”.

According to the monetary authority, there are no reports of non-compliance with formal agreements and, in the case of pecuniary contributions, all have already been received within the established deadlines.

Of the 76 terms of commitments signed since 2018, 41 have already been met and the other 35 are in the implementation or evaluation phase.

The latest agreement this year was signed in November, when the BV bank (Votorantim) undertook not to promote changes, without authorisation, to its corporate structure.

The institute specifies that the term relates to issues “strictly formal and which required internal adjustments to the process, in order to avoid any future confrontation on the subject with the regulator”.

A month earlier, BV had agreed to pay BRL 15 million for failed procedures to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

According to the bank, the deal was closed with the aim of “improving its internal processes”. “BV continuously strengthens its risk management systems and internal controls, always operating according to the highest standards of governance,” he says.

In May, the former directors of BV Financeira, the bank’s company, agreed the amount of BRL 540,000 as compensation for operational failures related to the installment payment of credit card bills. “This proceeding follows the procedural rites of the BV and does not constitute any confession or acknowledgment of illegality,” he says.

Banco BV was the second institution to be assessed by the regulator in the last year for overseeing security mechanisms related to the prevention of money laundering and the fight against the financing of terrorism.

In October, Itaú agreed to pay R$19 million for the same bankruptcies. The bank also undertook to present an action plan to the BC including improvements in its procedures.

“Although no serious deficiencies were found in the investigations conducted by the competent authorities, the bank has decided to sign the commitment as a further step in improving its procedures for the correct use of the National Financial System and the fight against illicit practices”, he says.

In the two cases of the Société Générale bank, the violations described relate to foreign exchange transactions involving the headquarters in France and the branch in Brazil.

With the agreements, the French bank was responsible for the payment of R$ 1 million and the Brazilian representative for the contribution of R$ 3.8 million. When contacted, Société Générale preferred to refrain from commenting on the matter.

The infringements committed by the Cetelem bank, according to the term signed, correspond to topics such as irregularities in the collection of interest and financial charges for revolving credit.

For the deeds, the entity has undertaken to reimburse approximately R$ 2 million to more than 658,000 customers, in addition to paying R$ 650,000 as compensation for the practices.

“All the obligations contained in the commitment term with the BC have been fulfilled. The monetary contributions have been duly collected and the sums reimbursed to the customers”, he says.

In cases of lower amounts, the Sicredi Aliança PR/SP cooperative, affiliated to the Sicredi system, has signed an agreement worth 150,000 reais for having carried out, according to a document, credit advance operations for its depositors and for having failed to control obligations of the entity.

According to the cooperative, the obligations undertaken have been fully respected and all measures adopted. “Improvements have been made in its operational procedures and internal controls, which can be proven in the audit report,” he says. “Sicredi reiterates that it strictly complies with the legislation and the decisions of the BC”, he adds.

Sicoob (Brazilian Credit Union System) in the state of São Paulo was left to pay R $ 200,000 for failing to supervise, according to the registry, the acts of the cooperative management bodies and to fulfill the legal and statutory obligations related to the cooperative attribution central .

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