The FT – and many other media following – report the record $ 56bn in fines for the banking industry over 2014. To put it in perspective, the author mentions that this amount is “the equivalent of the gross domestic product of Croatia”. That sounds like a lot although Croatia makes up only 0.05% of the world population, so maybe $56bn is not that much.
At the same time fines are handed to a few big banks only – BNP was fined a substantial portion of this amount on its own. Banks from India, China, Japan or smaller banks have sofar hardly been fined, so does that mean that everything is in perfect shape?
In Malaysia earlier in the year in his opening address to a financial crime conference we could hear Roger Wilkins, the President of the FATF quote Machiavelli, stating that nothing draws attention as a dead body in the town square at lunch time…
Fines are handed (long) after the fact and they focus the attention of decision makers in financial institutions on money. Both aspects don’t help to prevent financial crime, to change the culture in organisations or increase awareness of staff and management alike.
Maybe more fines are unavoidable but the industry would benefit from punishment in other than just monetary form – think of community service for offending bankers - and other measures to prevent finanical crime from recurring.
I wish everyone a good start of 2015.