The European Commission launched an investigation on Tuesday into the level of interest rates 'Poste Italiane' receives on money it has deposited at the Italian treasury since 2005.
â€˜Poste Italianeâ€™ is the universal postal service provider in Italy. The group received â‚¬2.4 billion ($3.05 billion) in compensation during 2000-2005, for discharging postal services entrusted to it, according to the European Commission.
The regulator opened a formal investigation into the level of interest rates applied to the funds collected from â€˜Poste Italianeâ€™s customersâ€™ current accounts and deposited with the Treasury as of 2005.
I am satisfied that the compensation for â€˜Poste Italianeâ€™s public service obligations has not unduly distorted competition. However, we have to investigate the interest received by the â€˜Poste Italianeâ€™ from the Treasury because it could constitute an illegal subsidy, said EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes in a statement.
The regulator said the deposits accumulated higher returns than a private borrower would offer which is potentially creating an illegal state subsidy to business. These higher interest rates proved to be an economic advantage to â€˜Poste Italianeâ€™ and which therefore potentially distorts competition and trade within the Single Market in violation of the EC Treatyâ€™s state aid rules.