Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Deutsche Bank to prohibit staff texting, using WhatsApp on company handsets

SCANDAL-HIT:The bank has endured a series of probes into its role in the sale of toxic debt, manipulation of interest-rate benchmarks and possible failure to stop money laundering


Deutsche Bank AG has banned text messages and communication apps such as WhatsApp on company-issued mobile phones in an effort to improve compliance standards.

The functionality is to be switched off this quarter, Deutsche Bank chief regulatory officer Sylvie Matherat and chief operating officer Kim Hammonds told staff in a memo on Friday.

Unlike e-mails, text messages cannot be archived by the bank, said a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

“We fully understand that the deactivation will change your day-to-day work and we regret any inconvenience this may cause,” Matherat and Hammonds said in the memo obtained by Bloomberg. “However, this step is necessary to ensure Deutsche Bank continues to comply with regulatory and legal requirements.”

The policy also applies to private mobile phones used by employees for work purposes.

Communication apps such as WhatsApp, Google Talk, iMessage are also prohibited, the memo said.

Deutsche Bank is working to improve compliance and clean up a reputation dented by a series of probes into its role in the sale of toxic debt, manipulation of interest-rate benchmarks and failure to prevent possible money laundering in Russia.

Deutsche Bank chief executive officer John Cryan, who has made changing the culture at the bank a key pillar of his revamp, last month reached a US$7.2 billion agreement in principle with the US Department of Justice to settle an investigation into the bank’s sales of mortgage securities before the global financial crisis.

Deutsche Bank has been slapped with more than US$13.9 billion in fines and legal settlements since the start of 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

That includes a US$3.1 billion penalty it agreed to pay in the preliminary settlement with the justice department. It does not include US$4.1 billion in relief to borrowers that the bank agreed to provide over at least five years.

In July 2012, the bank accidentally destroyed 482 recordings of telephone calls that were among those that the British Financial Conduct Authority had ordered the company to preserve, according to the regulator.

The bank’s foot-dragging and evasions increased the fine it paid to the authority by £101 million (US$123.05 million) to a total of £227 million, the authority said in April 2015.

The authority in 2010 adopted rules that force banks to record and store traders’ mobile-phone calls for six months.

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