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Bank Yahav has filed an official complaint with Supervisor of Banks Rony Hizkiyahu, accusing Israel Discount Bank of using illegal measures and making misleading promises to lure government employees to switch to Discount.
"Among other things, Israel Discount Bank representatives are claiming that Bank Yahav will be shut down and/or terminate its business to all and in particular to state employees in the coming year and therefore state employees must switch to Bank Discount," Bank Yahav alleged in a letter that was sent to Hizkiyahu through the Haim Kimchi & Co. law firm.
Bank Yahav, which in April lost the tender for offering its services to government employees to Discount Bank, called upon the Supervisor of Banks to examine activities of the Discount representatives at the work places of government employees.
Yahav said that in recent months, the bank had been receiving calls and complaints by customers, who allege that Discount representatives had been coming to their work place to persuade them to switch banks and spreading lies and false information. Based on these calls, Yahav claimed that over the past few months Discount representatives had been operating illegal activities such as deceiving customers by making promises that are not being realized and trade secret theft.
"Government employees are not stupid, you cannot make them switch to another bank if you lie to them. Bank Yahav, which is partly owned by state employees will continue to expand and offer all financial services to its customers," said Bank Yahav.
In response, Discount rebuffed all allegations, saying the claims had no basis.
"There is no basis for these allegations, they are a result of the distress, Bank Yahav has found itself after losing its monopoly and having to operate in a competitive market place," Discount said.
Discount, in August, embarked on a wide-ranging campaign to attract this sector as clients, while maintaining and even improving upon conditions offered to them for at least the next seven years.
At the same time, Bank Yahav signed an agreement with the Histadrut Labor Federation promising not to worsen the conditions it offered customers for seven years.
"Israel Discount Bank has won the government tender to provide services to state employees, which also included the right to operate teams at their work places so that among others they could open accounts," Discount said.
There are about 150,000 government employees and pensioners in Israel. Until now, they enjoyed credit facilities and loans at preferential government-subsidized rates through Bank Yahav. Discount, however, has committed to maintain and improve the special conditions offered through Bank Yahav, which include VIP status, facilitated transfer of bank accounts, at-home banking made possible, free transfer of standing orders, credit cards and all other services.
In addition, Discount is opening a large branch in the area of Jerusalem close to the work places of government employees in addition to its 126 branches across the country. At the same time, all Bank Yahav ATMs located at government offices will be replaced by those of Discount Bank, meaning that state employees remaining with Yahav would have to go outside their offices into one of Yahav's 24 branches to access their accounts. Bank Yahav noted, though, that its customers can also use services through the branches of Bank Hapoalim, which has a 50% stake in Yahav. At the end of October, Bank Hapoalim announced the sale of its 50% stake in Yahav to Bank Mizrahi Tefahot, but that deal has not yet been completed.
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