Competition and Fair Trading Commission fines National and Standard Banks


By Duncan Mlanjira

Two of the country’s top financial service providers, Standard Bank and National Bank have been fine K500,000 each by the Competition and Fair Trading Commission for Unconscionable Conduct in the Trade of Goods and Services.

The decision was made during the Commission’s 54th Meeting in Blantyre on 29th January 2020 where it considered and adjudicated over competition and consumer protection cases. 

The two banks’ cases were amongst several complaints that were brought before the Commission in accordance with Section 8 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act.

A report that the Commission issued on March 5, says it adjudicated over 72 cases of which 24 were on alleged unfair trading practices; 19 on Restrictive Business Practices, 23 were on COMESA mergers while 6 were on local mergers.


Following its investigation conducted on Standard Bank, the Commission says the Bank opened interest earning Contract Save Accounts for a number of customers.

“However, upon maturity of the contracts, the bank did not pay any interest thereby causing distress to consumers. This was despite several complaints raised by concerned consumers. 

“The investigation further established that the bank engaged in deceptive/misleading advertising when it stated that the interest rate for the contract save account would be 8% when in fact they meant 8% per annum.”

Williams tea

The Commission says it has since ordered the bank to clearly indicate the interest rate regime on their information materials and was also advised to conduct more sensitization of its customers on financial literacy.

On National Bank of Malawi, Commission says it established that it speciously and deceptively charged debit interest to customer accounts and failed to provide timely remedy despite repeated pleas from the affected consumers, which was an infringement of section 43 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act.

The Commission has ordered National Bank to reverse the interest debits and pay accrued interests on the sums illegally held by the bank in favour of the complainants — Pitronic Limited and James Lindani.

The Bank has also been ordered to issue an official apology to the complainants and also asked to provide details of other customers who suffered similar charges due to the malfunctioning of the Core Banking System and to provide proof that the erroneous charges have been reversed.


NBM has also been ordered that it should timely rectify and remedy its core banking system to guarantee consumer protection and should undertake a review of its complaints handling processes and systems to guarantee adequate consumer protection and avoid a recurrence.

Another complaint was on the alleged misleading advertising, improper labelling and supply of uncertified product by Wills and Alpha Limited, of which it was found guilty of ordered to pay a fine of K500,000.

The report says Wills and Alpha Limited engaging in deceptive/misleading advertising and insufficient labelling of products. 

An investigation showed that the company broadcast/published an advertisement claiming that ‘Williams Tea’ cures diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Low Blood Pressure, Headaches, Diarrhoea and Stomach Disorders.

“The Commission did not find any evidence to show that Williams Tea had been certified by a competent authority as a ‘medicine’ or ‘possessing medicinal attributes’. 

“The investigation further established that the packaging material for Williams Tea had material information deficiencies, including no certification marks and physical address.”

Another case of unfair practice was acted on Garani Mw 1 for alleged misleading conduct and deceptive advertising and was ordered to cease and desist from engaging in misleading advertising. 

“This followed investigations which the Commission conducted which showed that the company’s promotional materials claimed that herbal product named Garani Mw1 was a cure for HIV/Aids and other diseases like diabetes, cancer, asthma, chronic colds, chronic wounds, high blood pressure and others. 

This was grossly misleading, deceptive and a blatant infringement of the Competition and Fair Trading Act.

The Commission comprises chairperson Nelson Nsiku, Joyce Mataya, Esmie Tembenu, Dorothy Chapeyama, Dr Patrick Kambewa, Edgar Tembo, George Naphambo, Charity Musonzo (Ex-Officio, Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism), Symon Mandala (Ex-Officio, Malawi Bureau of Standards and Roselyn Makhumula (Ex-Officio, Secretary to Treasury).