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Swiss financial regulator wants to be able to name and shame banks

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ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss financial regulator FINMA wants to be able to name and shame banks which breach its rules, Chief Executive Stefan Walter told newspaper NZZ in an interview published on Tuesday.

The call is one of FINMA’s demands for increased powers after the authority came under fire over its handling of Credit Suisse’s collapse last year.

“Today, the publication of enforcement proceedings is the exception,” Walter told the newspaper. “In the future, non-communication should be the exception.”

Naming and shaming financial institutions would have a disciplinary effect if the companies knew punishments would be made public, said Walter, who took up his post in April.

“It also shows what the supervision achieves,” he said. “The dilemma of every supervisory authority is: if something goes wrong, everyone knows. If something is prevented, no one knows.”

Banks needed to be more open and give full information, he said. If cooperation was not forthcoming, the regulator could carry out more on-site inspections.

“In extreme cases, you must have the option of holding individuals responsible and, if necessary, removing them,” he said.

This required a co-called senior managers regime, where responsibility is assigned to individuals making it easier to trace who was at fault.

The Swiss government in April listed 22 recommendations to improve the regulation of the country’s outsized financial sector, including tougher capital requirements.

Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS, which took over Credit Suisse (CS) after the latter’s collapse, has already flagged concerns about the potential changes in regulation, with Chairman Colm Kelleher saying a requirement to hold additional capital was the “wrong remedy.”

FINMA’s Walter said he did not want to start a “feud” with UBS’s management, but said sufficient capital was needed to reduce the risk and extent of a crisis in future.

“The distribution of capital within the bank is also important, which is crucial in the stabilization or resolution phase. The CS crisis has shown this,” Walter told the paper.

“Capital requirements increase with increasing size. However, this does not solve the problem of capital distribution: we want the parent company to have enough buffer so that it does not become a bottleneck in a crisis.”

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