Caixin
Apr 10, 2017 07:01 PM
FINANCE

New Banking Chief Shows Lenders Who’s Boss

(Beijing) — Guo Shuqing, China’s new banking regulator, has fired his first salvo across the bows of the banks, ordering them to conduct internal reviews of their operations to assess risks and to make sure they comply with laws and regulations.

Banks have until June 12 to report the results to their local China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) office, and they must be prepared to undergo spot checks from watchdog officials to verify their reviews, according to a notice dated March 28 seen by Caixin.

The reviews are part of a planned overhaul of banking regulation which has been plagued by loopholes and lax enforcement of law and regulations, the notice said. The current system needs fixing because it has failed to deter and stop repeated transgressions, the document said, likening it to using a cattle pen to hold cats. The phrase was first used by Guo at a press conference in March to make his point that regulators aren’t using the right tools for the job.

A former chairman of China Construction Bank, one of the country’s big four state-owned commercial banks, Guo became chairman of the CBRC on February 24 after almost four years as governor of eastern Shandong province.

Guo took charge of China’s 232 trillion yuan ($33.6 trillion) banking industry amid a campaign by the Chinese leadership to rein in growing risks in the financial system and try to untangle the increasingly complex lending and investment connectivity between different parts of the financial system that has grown almost unchecked for years.

He has vowed to tackle the “various phenomena of disorder” in the banking industry by cracking down on shadow lending, strengthening supervision over banks’ wealth management products, and taking resolute action to root out corruption and hold officials responsible for mistakes and negligence.

The document lists more than 100 items that banks need to pay special attention to, with an emphasis on areas such as bad loans, funding to the real estate sector, bill financing and interbank borrowing. The items include the concealment of non-performing loans, and inappropriate lending to property developers and home buyers.

Just last week, the CBRC announced it had disciplined 17 banking institutions for hiding bad loans, circumventing regulations and charging fees illicitly, although it did not disclose the details of their transgressions or the punishments given. Those caught in the net included China Merchants Bank, Ping An Bank and the Bank of Communications.

Contact reporter Wang Yuqian (yuaiqnwang@caixin.com)

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