Sweden’s National Board for Consumer Disputes will not pursue Swedbank Robur following a complaint by the Swedish Shareholders’ Association in regards to two funds and allegations of excess fees being charged.
The complaint was investigated as a type of class action, according to rules in place since 1991 at the Board. The Shareholders’ Association had argued that investors should be compensated for 1.06% and 1.07% overcharging on the Allemansfond Komplett and Swedbank Robur Kaptialinvest funds respectively, going back to 16 December, 2004.
However, the Board rejected the complaint on the basis that it would require significant levels of verbal evidence to be given, which is not in line with the Board’s reliance on written evidence when considering whether to judge a complaint.
Thus, it agreed with one of the key rebuttals of Swedbank Robur, which had highlighted the difficulties in relying on verbal evidence.
However, the Shareholders’ Association said it would consider its response to the Board’s ruling further, including whether to appeal.
The rejection of the complaint represented a “shot against savings protection in Sweden”.
“The minister for Finance has asked a special investigator to determine what are genuine and fake active funds, the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority reported just a month ago that there are many fake active funds, but 3,000 savers who have complained about these funds cannot raise the issue. That the most important consumer authority bends to the interests of banks is very serious. This is about millions of Swedes who have over a long period been overcharged.”
In its response to the issue, the Swedish Investment Fund Association said that it “welcomes continued discussion and continued scrutiny of management of funds.”
“We will continue to work for good competition and to develop simple and useful information for fund investors,” said the Association’s chief executive Pia Nilsson.
Tomas Hedberg, CEO for Swedbank Robur, said: “We are pleased that [the Board] is not taking up the issue. The funds have been actively managed, even if we have not always been pleased with the results.”
“We regularly look over our prices and terms. We have, among others, lowered charges on some 30 of our funds, including the two affected.”
“It is never good when customers complain. In this context it should be remembered that there are 3 million fund investors who choose to save in our funds. Of them there are a total of 3,000 who have taken part in the class action.”