MPs want answers on Rabobank, editorials call for more heads to roll

Justice minister Ivo Opstelten has been urged to come clean about how much he knew about the settlement reached by Rabobank over the Libor interest rate scandal.

The Dutch regulatory authorities fined Rabobank €70m for its role in the affair, just under 10% of the total fine of €774m. Rabobank admitted 30 staff were involved in manipulating interest rates between 2005 and 2011.

Christian Democrat MP Eddy van Hijum wants the minister to explain why and how the deal was reached and if this means the bank will avoid prosecution. Bank staff involved in the scandal can still face legal action, the NRC reports.

Editorials

So far only top executive Piet Moerland has stepped down but more heads must roll at the Dutch cooperative bank, according to today’s editorials.

NRC opens by ticking off the bank’s top brass. ‘The bank’s reaction to the €774m fine for its role in the Libor scandal can best be summarised as “this is not us, we don’t do this sort of thing”. Well, without doubt it is you and you most certainly do,’ the paper writes.

It goes on to accuse the Rabobank traders of having the mentality of ‘addicted burglars who for years abused the privilege of working for one of the eighteen banks which determined the vitally important Libor interest rate for the dollar, yen, pound and euro.’

 Integrity

The Rabobank has done irreparable damage to its ‘image of integrity’(..) ‘but in reality it was part and parcel of many of the practices that gave the financial sector such a bad name during the credit crisis’.

Top executive Piet Moerland may have been the sacrificial lamb, the paper concludes, but ‘directly responsible’ member of the board Sipko Schat should reconsider his position as well.

The Financieele Dagblad in its editorial says the bank may have washed its hands of the Libor affair by taking measures and getting rid of Piet Moerdijk but ‘if it thinks it will be business as usual it is very much mistaken.

The supervision at the bank was woefully inadequate,’ the paper writes. ‘Is there a culture among the top executives of making sure no one strays or is it more a matter of not making things too difficult for each other,’ it asks.

The paper cites a few other instances when the bank did not react in a timely way to suspicious goings-on, such as the wide-spread use of doping in the cycle team sponsored by the bank, and the property fraud case. As in the Libor case, someone had to ‘pull the yellow card’ before the bank finally took action. It’s time for some critical self-evaluation, FD concludes.

Shocking 

Elsevier thinks the whole board should go. The magazine calls it ‘shocking’ that traders could carry on with impunity for six years while neither the board of directors nor the senior management had a clue.

‘In the old days when the vault in the local bank was opened, at least two members of staff had to be present to make sure neither took what wasn’t theirs. In the Libor affair the Rabobank top just let its business bankers grab to their hearts’ content.’

The bank’s reputation as a bank with a social conscience has been shattered completely, Elsevier concludes.