Bank executives rarely get punished for their misdeeds, leading to many people distrusting the entire banking system as plagued with widespread corruption. But once in a while someone has to bite the bullet. Recently, public anger has forced a CFO of a major bank to quit after a huge money laundering affair came to light.
CFO Leaves ING
ING Group (EPA:INGA), the Dutch multinational banking corporation, has announced on Tuesday that Koos Timmermans will step down from his position as chief financial officer and member of the executive board and will leave the company. The bank admitted that his resignation follows the announcement on September 4 about a settlement regarding shortcomings to prevent financial economic crime at ING Netherlands. During the investigated period (2010-2016) Timmermans was a member of the management board and for several years responsible for ING Netherlands.
“We deeply regret the shortcomings found and take this matter very seriously,” said Hans Wijers, chairman of the Supervisory Board of ING. “Given the seriousness of the matter and the many reactions among stakeholders since the announcement and in the interest of the bank, we came to the conclusion it is appropriate that responsibility is taken at Executive Board level. We have a serious task ahead of us and the Executive Board is fully committed to completing the various initiatives we have started at ING Netherlands to further strengthen our handling of compliance risks.”
€775 Million Fine
Last week ING agreed to pay a fine of €675 million and €100 million for disgorgement as part of a settlement agreement with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, following investigations regarding money laundering and corrupt practices. However, the bank claimed at the time that, the “identified shortcomings that occurred in the period investigated are not attributable to some individual persons but rather collective shortcomings at all responsible management levels.”
This position was only reversed after public anger swelled in the Netherlands, resulting in CFO Timmermans losing his position. Prime Minister Mark Rutte was the most senior figure to voice his displeasure and the Dutch Finance Minister, Wopke Hoekstra, summoned Wijers to The Hague, reportedly stating the affair had “shaken public faith in the banking sector yet again”. Additionally, shareholder interest group VEB asked for an examination of CEO Ralph Hamers’ part in the matter and its president, Paul Koster, suggested that Timmermans was just a “sacrificial victim”. Adding that, “For outsiders…this has the appearance of being about protecting Hamers.”
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