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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anti-Monopoly Service Probes Lending Rates

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service is probing 51 banks and 70 insurers on suspicion of collusion as the government aims to make the consumer-loan market more transparent, Andrei Kashevarov, the deputy head of the service, said Friday at a banking conference.

Some of Russia's 10 biggest banks are among those under investigation for agreeing with insurers on insurance rates offered to consumers, Kashevarov said. The banks may face penalties under the administrative code, he said, without elaborating.

The government is cracking down on banks requiring consumers to pay higher rates for purchasing insurance along with products such as mortgages and car loans. The Central Bank, which sees consumer lending rising 65 percent this year, said from July 1 that lenders must include all mandatory charges when calculating the effective annual percentage rate for loans and disclose them to consumers.

The banking industry is booming as wages continue to increase, reaching a monthly average of 13,810 rubles ($543.50) in June. Retail sales rose an annual 14.7 percent last month, when disposable income increased 7.9 percent, according to the State Statistics Service.

The economy expanded 6.7 percent last year when total insurance premiums reached 611 billion rubles, triple the volume of premiums in 2000, according to the Finance Ministry. The economy will probably expand 7 percent this year, government officials have said.