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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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"Social bonds" - warning from the President of UOKiK

< previous | next > 07.02.2022

"Social bonds" - warning from the President of UOKiK
  • Beware of the offer of the entity Obligacje Społeczne Prosta SA - despite the terms "bond", "series", "issuer", it is not about securities but about a loan agreement which may involve serious risk.
  • The President of UOKiK, Tomasz Chróstny, initiated proceedings against the entity and issued a consumer warning.
  • Another entity, KFG SA, is also accused of misleading consumers as it encourages, on its website, to investments in "social bonds".
  • The CEOs of both entities may also be held financially responsible.

Tomasz Chróstny, the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, has issued a consumer warning with regards to the entity Obligacje Społeczne Prosta SA. In December 2021, the Office informed about the activities of that entity. The material collected in the proceedings on practices violating collective consumer interests indicates a particularly justified suspicion of unfair practices by the entity, which may result in considerable financial losses for consumers.

- On its website, the entity Obligacje Społeczne Prosta SA encourages consumers to take advantage of the "Social Bond Offer" also using terms such as "issuer", "issue" or "series" suggesting that it is about securities. Meanwhile, the entity simply wants to borrow money from consumers. Furthermore, only the benefits of the agreement are presented and the risk is not mentioned, which, in our view, is considerable. Therefore, I have decided to warn consumers and make them fully aware of what the investment is about before they invest their money" - says Tomasz Chróstny, the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

The entity Obligacje Społeczne Prosta SA advertises (or has advertised) its offer on its website using slogans such as: "The interest rate is fixed throughout the life of the bonds [currently: the duration of the Social/Premium Bond Agreement]" or "Which bonds would you like to buy?" - Meanwhile, in reality, the parties enter into loan agreements in which consumers are the lenders. It has nothing to do with bonds - except for the name of the entity.

While presenting the offer on the Internet, the entity only mentions the expected benefits of the investment and a guarantee of profit: "The fixed interest rate means that, already at the time of purchase, the buyer of the premium bonds knows the amount of interest the person will receive after twelve months of saving", "In addition to the guaranteed profit, each bond is secured". The entity does not say anything about the risk. However - according to the findings of UOKiK, at the time of concluding the agreement, the loan granted by the consumer is not secured in any way, and the target security is to be 1/3 of the share in the car owned by an affiliated entity. The affiliated entity is a separate company not legally bound by any agreement with the consumer at the time of the conclusion of the loan agreement, which means that the consumer has no legal possibility to request the company owning the vehicle to conclude a pledge agreement

If the allegations against Obligacje Społeczne Prosta SA are confirmed, the entity faces a penalty of up to 10%  of its annual turnover. Another member of the management board, acting as a chairman, is also subject to proceedings. A fine of up to PLN 2 million applies for deliberate infringement of collective consumer interests by the entity.

Allegations against KFG SA

The President of UOKiK, Tomasz Chróstny, has brought charges against the entity KFG SA from Rzeszów and its president. On its website, the entity presents a "social bond" offer with a link to the website of Obligacje Społeczne Prosta SA. The allegations concern misleading consumers. Firstly, KFG SA presented itself, on its website, as "Krajowy Fundusz Gwarancyjny Spółka Akcyjna with its registered office in Warsaw". Such an entity is not registered with the National Court Register and the name evokes associations with Krajowy Fundusz Gwarancyjny (national guarantee fund) operating within Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, the more so as KFG SA publishes some excerpts from the act regulating the activity of the other entity on its website. Secondly, on its website, the entity unlawfully placed the logos of: Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego (Financial Supervision Commission), Bankowy Fundusz Gwarancyjny, Ubezpieczeniowy Fundusz Gwarancyjny (Insurance Guarantee Fund) and Polski Fundusz Rozwoju Spółka Akcyjna with its registered office in Warsaw (the logos got removed only after interventions of the concerned institutions).

- As a result of the actions of KFG SA, consumers may have been given the false impression that the investments presented by the entity were subject to supervision and guarantees by institutions that stabilise the financial market and ensure its safety. Such information could have had a significant impact on the decisions of consumers with regards to the offer involving the supposed bonds and their possible purchase. That is why I accused the entity of using unfair market practices - says Tomasz Chróstny, the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

Consumer warning

Pursuant to the Act on competition and consumer protection, the President of UOKiK may issue a warning when there is a particularly justified suspicion that an entity is involved in an illegal practice that may expose a wide group of consumers to significant losses or adverse financial consequences. Warnings are posted on the website of the Office.

The consumer warning, referred to in the press release relates, concerns Obligacje Społeczne Prosta Spółka Akcyjna with its registered office in Warsaw.

Consumer assistance:

Phone 801 440 220 or 22 290 89 16 – consumer hotline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
 Consumer Ombudsmen – in your town or district

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Tags: consumer warning

Attached files

 

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