Economy

Netherlands: Will bankers have to take the oath?

27 September 2012
Presseurop
NRC Handelsblad

A proposed bill to make bankers in the Netherlands subject to a disciplinary council along the lines of the ones established for doctors and lawyers is causing “great concern among bankers”, remarks NRC Handelsblad. The bill will be put to outgoing Minister of Finance, Jan Kees de Jager, who declared on 24 September that he is considering replacing the current discretionary oath with an obligatory oath backed by a disciplinary council with the power to impose sanctions in the event of violations. Interviewed by the newspaper, legal expert Edgar du Perron argues that the bill could help limit shady dealing –

It would enable banking staff to stand up to their superiors [...] they could say: I refuse to sell this product, because it could cause me [disciplinary] problems.

However, Du Perron also warns that the measure in itself won’t be enough to prevent a further crisis –

Self-regulation within the profession may be like allowing butchers to carry out checks on their own meat. What’s more, the disciplinary council rules will be difficult to apply, notably with regard to bankers whose activities could endanger the entire financial system [...] like Jérôme Kerviel at Société Générale. Who are their customers? Who will file a complaint with the disciplinary council?

In its editorial, the daily describes the proposal as “logical”, while expressing some reservations about “the definition of the term ‘banker’”. It adds –

The acceptance of risk has without a doubt provided the basis for our current prosperity. It would be better to prevent the consequences of these risks from impacting society instead of forcing staff in the [banking] sector to go along with a drive for good behaviour. A clear and strictly observed distinction between retail and investment banks is still the best solution.