OSLO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The asset management arm of Norwegian banking giant DNB overcharged customers for investing in three of its funds, an Oslo court heard on Monday in the country's largest ever class action lawsuit.
The Norwegian Consumer Council is seeking to reclaim 690 million crowns ($85 million) on behalf of 180,000 customers with DNB who had placed money in the funds between January 2010 and December 2014.
DNB Asset Management is accused of charging customers for actively managing the funds but in reality was simply tracking a stock market index - a claim DNB denies.
"When the Consumer Council takes this case to court it is not just about claiming money back for those who paid too much," Steinar Mageli, representing the council, told the court in his opening statement.
"Saving money in a fund is the way we save for pensions now, so its conditions are very important for people's pensions ... when people have to save much more money themselves."
"Second, it raises a legal and financial question: has the customer got what he paid for? And third, from a consumer power perspective, lacking services need to see consequences."
DNB says the funds were actively managed.
"DNB denies its obligations to fund owners have been breached," the bank said in court documents.
"The ... funds have been managed properly and in accordance with the Securities Funds Act, the funds' articles of association and investor information and often given fund owners more excess returns than costs."
The case at Oslo's district court is scheduled to last until Dec. 8 with the judgment expected to follow in January. (Editing by Greg Mahlich)