September 23, 2014 / 9:11 AM / 5 years ago

BoE's Bailey wants better global coordination over bank fines

LONDON (Reuters) - Regulators from the United States and elsewhere should coordinate better how they levy fines on banks for misconduct to avoid making it harder to rebuild strength in the banking system, Bank of England Deputy Governor Andrew Bailey said.

Bailey said at a British Bankers’ Association on Tuesday that better discussion was needed among regulators to ensure big fines don’t get in the way of banks building up their capital buffers.

“I am trying to build capital in firms and it’s draining out the other side (in fines and penalties),” Bailey said.

The “major message” is that a collegial approach is required to assessing and implementing penalties so that prudential regulators are involved to assess the consequences of such penalties, Bailey said.

“That discussion has to be had and currently is not being sufficiently had,” Bailey said.

He called for a “cards on the table” approach among international regulators to come up with sensible penalties for misconduct.

“We must build trust among the authorities and regulators involved that coordination will happen,” Bailey added.

Bailey said putting restrictions on a bank’s business could also be dangerous to its health and needed to be considered carefully.

European supervisors have voiced concerns that U.S. regulators fined French bank BNP Paribas almost $9 billion to resolve accusations it violated U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran. The regulators also banned BNP for a year from conducting certain U.S. dollar transactions, a critical part of the bank’s global business.

The bill for misconduct is also rising in Britain.

Three British banks, Barclays, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland have been fined $1.4 billion in total for attempted manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate or Libor, a widely used interest rate benchmark.

Britain’s top five banks have paid out more than 4 billion pounds in fines in the last two years, and could face further hits from investigations into alleged rigging of currency markets and other probes.

UK banks have also set aside more than 22 billion pounds to compensate customers for mis-sold loan insurance, making it easily the industry’s costliest scandal.

Bailey also warned that banks pulling back from lending to some customers or countries can hurt economic growth in poorer countries.

“Clearly it can threaten economic growth and development in the world in ways that can be highly disruptive to the broader growth of the world economy. That’s a dilemma that needs to be brought to the surface and resolved,” he said.

Reporting by Huw Jones, editing by Steve Slater

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