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German Citizen Group Sues to Block ECB’s Bond-Buying Plan

The European Central Bank was sued over its proposal to buy unlimited bonds from debt-laden countries to regain control of interest rates in nations that make up the monetary union.

A group, which currently includes 5,217 plaintiffs and is led by activist group Zivile Koalition e.V., filed the lawsuit on Nov. 12 with the European Union General Court, the 27-nation EU’s second-highest tribunal. The Luxembourg-based court’s press office confirmed the lawsuit, which seeks to block the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions program announced on Sept. 6.

“The ECB’s policy violates its own statutes and has an immediate influence on monetary stability in the euro area,” Beatrix von Storch, the group’s spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement today.

The case is the sixth to reach the EU’s two top courts challenging the Frankfurt-based ECB on euro-area-related decisions. Earlier this year, a group of more than 200 Italian retail investors filed a lawsuit to overturn an ECB decision they claim meant the bank avoided losses on Greek debt that private bondholders had to endure in a restructuring.

The ECB declined to comment.

The General Court on Nov. 29 is scheduled to rule on Bloomberg News’s lawsuit to have the ECB release files showing how Greece may have used derivatives to hide its borrowings. Two cases by the U.K. against the ECB are also pending at the lower EU court over plans to block trades in some euro-denominated securities from being cleared outside the euro area.

Another lawsuit, being appealed to the EU Court of Justice, the bloc’s top court, seeks to annul the ECB’s decisions to buy euro-area government debt and accept Greek, Irish and Portuguese debt from banks as collateral.

The case is: T-492/12, Von Storch and others v. ECB.

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