The new banking tax approved on Thursday by the Congress of Deputies has received strong criticism today from the CEOs of the main banks with operations in Spain, whose legal departments are already analyzing possible appeals before the courts.
The employers' association AEB, which represents the main banks in Spain, says that there are "sufficient" elements to fight in court and Bankinter has announced that it will go to court "the day after" to settle the tax. The rest of the entities are waiting to know the final text to take action.
The new tax weighs 4.8% of the interest margins and the commissions of the banks that enter more than 800 million euros a year in Spain. The royal decree-law validated last Thursday prohibits transferring it to consumers, but the banks and the ECB have doubts that this imposition can be established. If appealed, the entities will have to denounce the quarterly tax settlements, since they do not have the authority to go directly to the Constitutional Court.
This morning the CEOs of BBVA, Santander, CaixaBank, Sabadell and Bankinter met at a sector meeting organized by Expansión and KPMG. Saving some nuances, they have not spared criticism of the tax, approved days after an important agreement between the banks and the Government to help mortgaged people in difficulties.
"There are many reports that show legal doubts and even the unconstitutionality of this tax," said the president of the banking association AEB, Alejandra Kindelán. As an association, "we are not passive subjects and we cannot appeal, but we are very aware of what the entities are going to do." Kindelán indicated that the complaint could be filed upon receipt of the first assessment of the lien and she has considered that "there is sufficient legal basis" to file it.
The CEO of BBVA, Onur Genç, has assured that "this tax is going to affect the growth of the Spanish economy" and "this is not the best time to impose it". "We are going to comply with what the law says, that is not in question", but "any academic document shows that when you impose a tax it is to restrict a specific activity, and now banking activity cannot be restricted because it is there for the economy".
The CEO of Santander Spain, Antonio Simoe, has also been very critical, describing the tax as “very bad for the competitiveness and confidence of investors in Spain”. "There is quite a consensus, even the ECB says so, that it is not the best way to combat inflation," he pointed out, before considering that it is "bad for the Spanish economy, for companies and for families", in addition to " for small bank shareholders”.
Santander ensures that the profitability of banks in Spain, of about 8.8%, is below their cost of capital, located between 10% and 11%, which means "a competitive disadvantage" compared to others countries. Banks also complain that their listing is below the book value of their assets.
The CEO of CaixaBank, Gonzalo Gortázar, has indicated that his entity is going to go "little by little". "We have to see the final text" and from there, "if we consider that it is not in accordance with the Law, our obligation would be to appeal it."
The CEO of Sabadell, César González-Bueno, has assured that the regulation suffers from "important problems", as it has not passed through the Council of State or has had "the calm it requires". "The guidelines of the European regulator, the EBA, speak of the fact that all elements in the costs of loans, including taxes, must be considered", so that the new tax should be passed on to the consumer, he indicated.
“It is the problem of legislating quickly and skipping procedures. The tax seems bad to us, obviously ”, has assured the manager. “Logically, we should pass it on. Customers will pay for it here instead of there. The motivation for a tax that has been built very badly and very quickly, and for reasons that are not necessarily more efficient in the economy, is not very well known.
Víctor Iglesias, the CEO of Ibercaja, considered "very likely" that the entity will go to court "if it comes out in the current terms." The CEO of Bankinter, María Dolores Dancausa, has also been very critical, saying that the bank is going to appeal it "the next day" for being "unfair, discriminatory and confiscatory".