Hungary Central Bank Fines 35 Banks

The Hungarian central bank Thursday fined 35 banks in an effort it said was to protect consumers after most banks managed to pass on to clients a large share of the extra tax burden the Fidesz-party government levied on the banking sector in 2013, The Wall Street Journal Emerging Europe Real Time blog reported. The National Bank of Hungary imposed a total of 1.2 billion forints ($5.3 million) on the banks for unilaterally changing their services fees, which–the central bank claimed– increased costs for customers. Hungary launched a financial transactions levy in 2013, a surcharge on all financial services ranging from cash withdrawals to bank transfers. Hungary is the only country in central Europe that has introduced such a tax. The financial transaction tax was levied on top of Hungary imposing in 2010 a revenue-based tax on its banks. Hungary has the highest bank-sector tax in the world, according to a study by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Read more. (Subscription required.)