Kahlon Blasts Coy Banks Over Fee Issue

MK Moshe Kahlon, the chairman of the Knesset Parliamentary Inquiry Committee on Bank Fees, yesterday angrily and abruptly ended the committee's meeting because bank representatives had failed to provide satisfactory answers to key questions on the issue of their fees. Kahlon had provided the questions, submitted by bank customers, to the banks in advance of the meetings.

Kahlon said immediately afterward: "The debate was perhaps more important than all the others because we tried to have customers confront the banks. Just as customers don't receive answers from banks on a daily basis, the committee also failed despite repeated attempts to obtain answers."

Moshe Hauser, who serves as the committee's consultant, provided at Kahlon's behest fee data and proposals for easing customer moves between banks. He showed the number of fees more than doubled between 1993 and 2007. Moreover, the cost of unregulated fees climbed faster than the CPI between 2001 and 2007.

The parliamentary committee is due to begin formulating its final recommendations, which need either Knesset approval or agreement by the banks. A Bank Leumi representative commented the last time the banks agreed to a package deal on fees, Leumi lost NIS 100 million. The banks defended their answers, accusing Kahlon of making a mountain out of a molehill.