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French banks fined for price fixing

France's competition watchdog has fined a group of leading banks including BNP Paribas and Societe Generale 385 million euros (£321 million) for illegally fixing the price for cheque clearing services between 2002 and 2007.

The Autorite de la Concurrence competition watchdog said the 11 banks, which also included the Banque de France, Credit Agricole SA and HSBC, illegally instituted a 4.3-cent-per-cheque fee following the switch to digital interbank processing system in 2002.

The watchdog said the fee did not "correspond to any rendered service" and artificially increased costs for banks, "with the potential effect of influencing the level of the banking services prices."

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