Federal Financial Supervisory Authority

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Federal Financial Supervisory Authority

Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht
Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht logo.svg
Agency overview
Formed 1 May 2002
Jurisdiction Federal Republic of Germany
Headquarters Bonn and Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Employees 2,100 (31 December 2011)[1]
Agency executive Elke König, President
Website http://www.bafin.de/

The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (German: Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht) better known by its abbreviation BaFin is the financial regulatory authority for Germany. It is an independent federal institution with headquarters in Bonn and Frankfurt and falls under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Finance (Germany). BaFin supervises about 2,700 banks, 800 financial services institutions and over 700 insurance undertakings.

History[edit]

BaFin was formed on 1 May 2002 with the passing of the Financial Services and integration Act (German: Gesetz über die integrierte Finanzaufsicht (FinDAG)) on 22 April 2002. The aim of this legislation was to create one integrated financial regulator that covered all financial markets.[2] BaFin was created by the merger of the three supervisory agencies, the Federal Banking Supervisory Office (German: Bundesaufsichtsamt für das Kreditwesen (BAKred)), the Federal Supervisory Office for the Securities Trading (German: Bundesaufsichtsamt für den Wertpapierhandel (BAWe)), and the Federal Insurance Supervisory Office (German: Bundesaufsichtsamt für das Versicherungswesen (BAV))

This meant there was uniform national supervision of banks, credit institutions, insurance companies, financial service companies, brokers and stock exchanges. This model was designed to provide transparency and manageability and to make sure all financial activity was regulated.

In 2003 changes to the Banking Act (KWG) gave BaFin further responsibility to monitor the credit worthiness of financial institutions and to collect detailed information from those institutions. The aim was to increase customer protection and the reputation of the financial system. It shares responsibility here with the Bundesbank

Major events[edit]

On 19 September 2008, in response to threats from the global financial crisis and following measures taking by the United States, BaFin banned short selling on eleven German finance stocks. These were Aareal Bank, Allianz, AMB Generali, Commerzbank AG, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Börse, Deutsche Postbank, Hannover Re, Hypo Real Estate, MLP AG and Munich Re. The ban expired on the 31 Jan 2010 and was not renewed at that time.[3]

On 19 May 2010, in response to 2010 European sovereign debt crisis, BaFin banned naked short selling of credit default swaps on euro-area government bonds until 31 March 2011. At the same time they re-introduced a ban on naked short selling of the previous 10 banks and insurers companies.[4]

Organization[edit]

BaFin Office in Bonn

BaFin is run by a Board consisting of the President Jochen Sanio and four executive directors Karl-Burkhard Caspari (securities division), Raimund Röseler (banking supervision), Felix Hufeld (insurance supervision) and Gabriele Hahn (cross-functional areas and internal administration).

In addition to these divisions, the so-called "operational pillars", there are the a number of departments that have cross-organizational or perform administrative tasks, such as "risk modeling", "money laundering" and "international responsibilities".

BaFin employs roughly 2,100 at its two offices and is fully funded by fees and levies of the supervised institutions and companies and so is independent of the federal budget. The levy amounts depend on the scope and authorization of total assets. An appeal to the Constitutional Court regarding the unconstitutionality of this (forced) levy in 2009 was rejected as unfounded. In the opinion of the court the levy is 'intended to strengthen the investor confidence and the soundness and integrity of these companies. These are a necessary condition for a functioning financial framework'.

As of September 2006, BaFin regulated approximately 2,100 banks, 700 financial services institutions, 630 insurance companies, 25 pension funds and 80 investment companies with 6,000 funds.

Responsibilities[edit]

The main task of BaFin is the supervision of banks, insurance companies and the trading of securities and ensure the viability, integrity and stability of the German financial system.

As a financial market-based institution BaFin is responsible to both providers and consumers. On the supply side it pays attention to the solvency of banks, insurance companies and financial institutions. For investors, bank customers and insured it ensures confidence in the financial markets and the companies operating therein.

Accounts Supervision[edit]

To maintain the integrity and stability of the financial system and combat money laundering BaFin is obliged, under the Banking Act, to run a centralized computer system that stores information on all accounts and their account holders. This information must be provided to BaFin by all financial institutions in Germany.

Banking[edit]

The Banking Act (KWG) is the legal basis for banking supervision by BaFin. It monitors compliance with the rules and guidelines of the Banking Act relating to credit and financial institutions.

The establishment of new banks in Germany are subject to a compulsory license subject to law, BaFin, as the competent authority, approves such licenses. It takes into account the management, minimum capital requirements, reliability, solid leadership and the sustainability of business when approving licenses.

Throughout their operation, financial institutions are subject to ongoing supervision by the BaFin. This is to ensure all conditions are met. In particular, the financial condition of solvency and liquidity, including having appropriate risk control - and management systems (MaRisk).

Financial institutions must provide BaFin with;

  • the financial statements and audit reports
  • the banks and financial service Kurzbilanzen
  • monthly reports on wholesale and retail loans
  • regularly demonstrations their compliance with the liquidity and solvency regulation

All information will be assessed and evaluated in close cooperation with the Deutsche Bundesbank. In addition, BaFin may order special tests, which are also carried out by members of the Bundesbank on the spot.

The Banking Law provides BaFin an extensive arsenal of sanctions including criminal sanctions, ranging from written warnings of fines to withdrawal of banking license.

Insurance[edit]

Similar to bank supervision, the Insurance Supervision Law (VAG) requires insurance companies to receive and maintain their business with approval of BaFin, and the conditions are similar to those of banking supervision. BaFin supervises insurance companies (including pension and burial funds), holding companies, security and pension funds. This excludes insurers that operate in only one province. These are subject to supervision by the competent local authority.

The supervisor shall include the monitoring of security assets and solvency to ensure that insurance contracts can be met. BaFin also monitors in general compliance with all laws applicable to the operation of insurance businesses.

Securities[edit]

BaFin is required to ensure the functioning of the German markets for securities and derivatives in accordance with the Securities Trading Act (WpHG). This includes in particular the prevention of insider trading and other market abuses such as price and market manipulation.

As part of this BaFin collects information on all securities traded as well as disclosures from listed companies from all market participants. This information is used to detect insider trading, price and market manipulation. In particular, the buying and selling of shares by company management in the same company is monitored closely (Directors Dealings). BaFin also ensures market transparency by supervising reporting rules and disclosure requirements and makes sure these are followed.

BaFin enforcement powers range from the issuing of subpoenas and questioning people, suspending or prohibition trading in financial instruments up to being able to forward cases to the public prosecutor.

Since 2002, under the Securities Acquisition and Takeover Act (German: Wertpapiererwerbs- und Übernahmegesetz, WpÜG), it also deals with monopoly issues during mergers and acquisitions.

BaFin acts as the central depository for prospectus, however BaFin only checks basic information and does not check for the accuracy and creditworthiness of the issuer.

The role of the BaFin in law enforcement[edit]

The BaFin has the right, when it discovers a crime or even the suspicion of a crime, in particular insider trading, market manipulation, illegal operation of banking, financial fraud, incitement to establish stock exchange speculation to forward them to law enforcement authorities. BaFin is in effect a law enforcement agency and can initiate legal action.

Criticism[edit]

Soon after its establishment there were signs that there were serious shortcomings within the internal structure of BaFin. The Examination by the Federal Koblenz noted in March 2004 that the internal control system of authority is insufficient.[5]

In 2006, the Federal Court revealed the embezzlement of more than 4 million euro by Michael Raumann, the former head of information technology at BaFin,[6] for which he was indicted and convicted by the Bonn district court. In the sentencing notes the court criticized BaFin for its "nonexistent" internal controls.[7]

In September 2006 a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and BaFin internal audit found that the requirements of the federal government to prevent corruption had not been implemented.[8]

BaFin list of default risk of German banks[edit]

In April 2009 an internal BaFin list containing the volume of loans and securities "from troubled business” and banks was leaked to the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The internal paper estimated the volume of debt to be 816 billion euros. This confidential information was seen as potentially damaging to the creditworthiness of the banks and their sustainability and was seen as a serious breach by BaFin.

Shortly after the publication of the information, BaFin asked the Munich public prosecutor's to raise a criminal complaint against persons unknown on suspicion of breach of statutory duty of confidentiality.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "number of BaFin employees". Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Rahul Prabhakar, "And Then There Was One: Conglomeration, Internationalization & the Formation of Consolidated Financial Supervisors," SSRN 3/2009
  3. ^ "Bafin lifts ban on short-selling". www.thelocal.de. 1 Feb 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2010. 
  4. ^ "Germany to Ban Naked Short-Selling at Midnight". bloomberg.com. May 18, 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Handelsblatt, 14. September 2006, S. 25
  6. ^ Karin Matussek (September 11, 2007). "German Sentenced for Aiding Scam at Financial Agency". Bloomberg. Retrieved 4 April 2010. 
  7. ^ BaFin-Millionenbetrug: Sechs Jahre Haft. wdr.de accessed 4 May 2009
  8. ^ Handelsblatt, 14. September 2006, S. 24f.
  9. ^ Leaked list reveals German banks have 816 billion euros in toxic assets

External links[edit]