BRUSSELS - The European Commission will send warning letters to 120 banks and banking federations in four countries accusing them of conspiring to fix excessive fees for foreign-exchange transfers between the 11 euro-zone nations.
European Union Competition Commissioner Mario Monti did not identify the banks or countries. The charges involve transactions such as cross-border credit card and check payments, wire transfers, and currency exchanges.
The commission has documented evidence that banks and banking federations fixed fees for foreign-exchange transfers between euro-11 countries, which constitutes a "serious infringement of competition rules," Mr. Monti told the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs subcommittee Tuesday.
The commission, the EU's executive agency, launched its investigation in February 1999, saying it suspected that European banks of colluding in setting high fees to compensate for income they lost after the euro's introduction fixed exchange rates in the monetary union.
The European Union Banking Federation, a trade group, had pledged that its members would convert customers' accounts to euros for free.