Chequepoint loses exchange license

Exchange place featured in anti-scam videos will shut down

The Czech National Bank (ČNB) has finally taken action against one of Prague's most notorious money exchange outlets.

The ČNB announced on its website that it has decided to withdraw the authorization of Chequepoint to carry on exchange bureau activities, and the national bank has also issued a large fine.

“The ČNB has taken this step because of repeated violation of legal duties relating to the carrying on of bureau-de-change activities,” Marek Zeman, director of the ČNB Communications Division, said in a press release.

A recent series of videos by Janek Rubeš, who posts on YouTube under the name the Honest Guide, has drawn attention to the issue of exchange places that post signs claiming to have no commission but have such a poor rate that you get just a fraction of your money back. A Chequepoint branch at Old Town Square was one that he focused on several times.

Prague politicians have long complained that they have only limited power over exchange places, and that action must come from the ČNB.

In its justification of for shutting down Chequepoint, the ČNB said its latest inspection revealed, among other things, that the bureau had not properly provided pre-contract information and other required information in a significant sample of monitored translations. “This had greatly limited clients’ ability to complain about bureau-de-change transactions directly on the premises of the bureau-de-change concerned or to the ČNB, or to a court or the Financial Arbitrator,” ČNB's Zeman stated.

In addition to withdrawing permission to exchange money, the ČNB imposed a fine of Kč 1.2 million on Chequepoint for violating three laws: the Act on Bureau-de-change Activity, the Payment System Act and the Act on Certain Measures against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. This is the third time the exchange bureau has been fined, and is the largest fine.

“The repeated penalties imposed by the ČNB on Chequepoint in the past for shortcomings detected in the carrying on of bureau-de-change activities (Kč 100,000 in 2012 and Kč 1,000,000 in 2015) had clearly not led to sufficient remedy. Chequepoint’s bureau-de-change activities were therefore terminated ex officio as of 11 June 2018,” Zeman stated.

The bank will soon make its full ruling public.

Chequepoint was founded in 1990. It states on its website that it currently has five branches and more than 60 contractors throughout the Czech Republic.

Separately, the Czech government is in the process of approving new rules for exchange places that would allow people to cancel an exchange transaction within two hours if they find out they got a bad deal. The proposal to amend the Foreign Exchange Act has been drafted by the Finance Ministry but still needs to be passed by Parliament and then signed into law.

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