PS11287 - Italian Competition Authority: 1.4 million fine to Poste Italiane for placement of postal savings bonds
According to the Authority, the company has omitted and/or misleadingly formulated essential information relating to the maturity and limitation periods of the securities. Thanks to the initiatives taken in the meantime by Poste in favour of consumers, the fine was reduced by 60%
The Italian Competition Authority has closed an investigation against Poste Italiane S.p.A. and has imposed a 1.4 million euro fine over its placing and managing postal savings bonds.
According to the Authority, Poste has omitted and/or misleadingly formulated essential information relating to the maturity and limitation periods of such securities. The legislation provides that the rights of holders of postal savings bonds are time-barred after ten years from the date of maturity of the bond, with the consequence that neither the principal nor the interest are due any longer. For bonds issued up to 13 April 2001 these sums are devolved to the State and, for those issued subsequently, to the Fund to compensate savers who have fallen victim to financial fraud. Poste's conduct was therefore considered likely to mislead consumers with regard to the exercise of credit rights relating to the bond subscribed for.
The Authority has also ascertained that, with regard to paper securities that have been time-barred at least in the last five years, Poste has failed to inform in advance - and in an adequate manner - the holders of bonds close to the expiry of the limitation period, causing the non-reimbursement of their amounts. This conduct was held to violate the duties of professional diligence reasonably required of Poste under the general principles of fairness and good faith, and to be likely to alter consumers' economic behaviour in relation to the exercise of the credit rights relating to the bonds.
However, the Authority noted that, during the procedure, Poste has implemented several initiatives to improve the information provided to consumers on the expiry and limitation periods of postal savings bonds, including changes to the pre-contractual and contractual documentation, the inclusion in the paper certificate of wording that emphasises the possibility of obtaining the refund of the security only within the relevant limitation period and a system of individual alerting on the maturity and limitation dates for subscribers of bonds issued from 1 January 2009.
Precisely in view of these initiatives in favour of consumers, the Authority has decided to reduce the amount of the fine by 60%.
Rome, 4 November 2022