Germany to send 'mystery shoppers' into banks: minister

27th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

German consumer protection minister Ilse Aigner said the government planned to send undercover investigators into banks to test their practices, in an interview published Monday.

"In the future, the state will send investigators working with a cover" to check on bank operations, Aigner told the business daily Handelsblatt.

A finance ministry spokeswoman said Monday at a regular briefing that the work would be done by "mystery shoppers," a technique aleady used by companies to test their own services.

The private investigators would be recruited by Germany's financial markets watchdog BaFin, the spokeswoman added.

No changes to German law would be needed to authorise the tests, she said.

Earlier this year, a study by the consumer protection group Stiftung Warentest found that bank practices continued to flout rules aimed at ensuring customers were matched with appropriate investments for their levels of income.

The German private investors association DSW has said 50,000 investors lost large sums of money after they bought securities backed by the US investment bank Lehman Brothers, which went bankrupt in September 2008.

© 2010 AFP

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