The Athens Clearing Office

The Athens Clearing Office (ACO) is a multilateral cheque clearing system which handles the clearing of cheques denominated in euro and foreign exchange.

The general supervision and management of the ACO operations is exercised by a five-member Council in which Bank of Greece holds the chairmanship.

ACO comprises a central clearing office located at the Head Office of the Bank of Greece in Athens and regional clearing offices located at either a branch or an agency of the Bank of Greece, throughout the country. The regional clearing offices are under the jurisdiction of the central clearing office.

ACO lies under L. 2789/2000, which incorporated Directive 98/26/EC on settlement finality into Greek law.

1. Participation in the System

Eligible participant in ACO can be any credit institution incorporated or established by means of local branch in Greece. With respect to the domestic branches of foreign credit institutions incorporated in non-European Economic Area countries, the submission of a satisfactory legal opinion is required, referring to the law in force in the home country of the prospective participants and the implications thereof for participation in the system, with particular regard to provisions on insolvency.

The Bank of Greece is a member of the ACO.

2. Types of transactions

The ACO clears bank drafts and private cheques denominated in euro or foreign currency, drawn on banks operating in Greece.Cheques denominated in foreign exchange are accepted for processing only in the central clearing office.

3. Operation of the System

With respect to euro-denominated cheques, TARGET2 provides same-day settlement of the net positions resulting from ACO clearing.Partial settlement of ACO’s clearing balances is not permitted.

After settlement, cheques are handed over by the ACO to the banks on which they are drawn.In case a cheque is not accepted by the paying bank (e.g. due to insufficient balance on the customer’s account), it is presented to the system and returned to the buying bank until D+1, where D is the settlement day.Returned cheques are settled with value date the date of return.

Cheques denominated in foreign exchange are settled outside the system.

4. Pricing

The ACO’s operational expenses are covered by its participants.According to the current pricing policy, each participant is charged according to its share in the total volume of cheques presented to the ACO during the precedent quarter. The minimum share to be charged is 1%. Furthermore, new participants are subject to an entry fee, determined by the Council.

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