Prosecutor files charges against Itaú, Santander, HSBC units worth US$644mn

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The federal prosecutor's office of Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state has filed five civil suits against Itaú Unibanco (NYSE: ITUB), Santander Brasil (NYSE: BSBR) and HSBC Brasil, demanding the reimbursement of 1bn reais (US$644mn) plus interest for allegedly charging illegal fees.

According to financial daily Valor Econômico, the three banks are accused of charging fees above those set by central bank BCB between 2008 and 2010.

The local unit of Spain's Santander (NYSE: STD) allegedly charged 352mn reais in excess fees. The prosecutor's office filed three suits against Itaú - worth 101mn reais, 80.4mn reais and 64mn reais - while the local unit of UK's HSBC (NYSE: HBC) is accused of overcharging 7.6mn reais in fees.

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Additionally, the prosecutor's office is seeking compensation payments for "collective moral damages" ranging between 5mn reais and 30mn reais, to be placed in a general defense fund used in consumer-protection and environmental cases.