The European Commission decided to fine five German banks a total of 100,8 million euro for allegedly fixing the charges for the exchange of euro-zone currencies.

The Commission stated it fined the banks because in a "clear violation of European antitrust rules", the German banks in 1997 entered into a "cartel" which "represents a very serious infringement of the EC competition rules and justifies heavy fines". The banks apparently charged "no less than" 3% for the exchange of euro-zone banknotes to compensate for the abolition of the buying and selling 'spread' at the dawn of 1999 when the euro was launched.