Banks Face On-Site Checks by Basel Regulators

Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011 02:00 PM

 

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Global regulators will carry out on- site inspections of banks to ensure they have enough capital and liquidity under rules drawn up to prevent another financial crisis.

Details of lenders that fall short of the required standards will be made public, Stefan Ingves, chairman of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, said in prepared remarks for a speech in San Francisco today. National authorities will also face checks to make sure they are enforcing the rules.

“The corrosive forces of short memories and supervisory complacency” must be avoided, Ingves said. “The committee has not previously taken its assessments to the doorsteps of banks or supervisors. However this is exactly what it seeks to do.”

The Basel committee agreed last year to more than triple the core capital that banks must hold to guard themselves against insolvency and also to force them to stockpile easily sellable assets to survive a short-term funding squeeze.

European Union and U.S. regulators have already said they will monitor how their counterparts implement the rules, known as Basel III, which are scheduled to fully enter into force in 2019. Governments have pledged to put in place national rules to implement the Basel accord by the start of 2013.

“Global review teams will begin looking at individual countries and banking institutions in a much more detailed manner,” Ingves said. They will carry out “both off-site and on-site assessments of individual countries” with “public disclosure of the results.”

‘Mission Impossible’

“The inspection teams will face an uphill struggle, to put it mildly,” Bob Penn, a financial regulation lawyer at Allen & Overy LLP in London, said in an e-mail. There will be “innumerable differences” in the way the rules are applied even between countries that properly implement Basel III, he said. “This looks like mission impossible.”

The Basel group’s probes of banks will “initially focus” on whether lenders are accurately measuring their assets when they calculate how much capital they must hold, Ingves said.

The European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s executive arm, made proposals in July to apply Basel III in the region that the U.K. and Swedish governments have warned aren’t fully in line with the international agreement.

“Any efforts to delay or water-down the agreements will jeopardize financial stability, and undermine the long-term robustness of the recovery,” said Ingves, who is also governor of Sweden’s central bank.

The Basel committee brings together bank regulators from 27 countries including the U.S., U.K. and China.

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