FORMAL POWERS OF SUPERVISORS
Principle 22: Banking supervisors must have at their disposal adequate supervisory measures to bring about timely corrective action when banks fail to meet prudential requirements (such as minimum capital adequacy ratios), when there are regulatory violations, or where depositors are threatened in any other way. In extreme circumstances, this should include the ability to revoke the banking licence or recommend its revocation.
A. Corrective Measures
Despite the efforts of supervisors, situations can occur where banks fail to meet supervisory requirements or where their solvency comes into question. In order to protect depositors and creditors, and prevent more widespread contagion of such problems, supervisors must be able to conduct appropriate intervention. Banking supervisors must have at their disposal adequate supervisory measures to bring about timely corrective action and which enable a graduated response by supervisors depending on the nature of the problems detected. In those instances where the detected problem is relatively minor, informal action such as a simple oral or written communication to bank management may be all that is warranted. In other instances, more formal action may be necessary. These remedial measures have the greatest chance of success when they are part of a comprehensive programme of corrective action developed by the bank and with an implementation timetable; however, failure to achieve agreement with bank management should not inhibit the supervisory authority from requiring the necessary corrective action.
Supervisors should have the authority not only to restrict the current activities of the bank but also withhold approval for new activities or acquisitions. They should also have the authority to restrict or suspend dividend or other payments to shareholders, as well as to restrict asset transfers and a bank's purchase of its own shares. The supervisor should have effective means to address management problems, including the power to have controlling owners, directors, and managers replaced or their powers restricted, and, where appropriate, barring individuals from the business of banking. In extreme cases, the supervisors should have the ability to impose conservatorship over a bank that is failing to meet prudential or other requirements. It is important that all remedial actions be addressed directly to the bank's board of directors since they have overall responsibility for the institution.
Once action has been taken or remedial measures have been imposed, supervisors must be vigilant in their oversight of the problems giving rise to it by periodically checking to determine that the bank is complying with the measures. There should be a progressive escalation of action or remedial measures if the problems become worse or if bank management ignores more informal requests from supervisors to take corrective action.
B. Liquidation Procedures
In the most extreme cases, and despite ongoing attempts by the supervisors to ensure that a problem situation is resolved, a banking organisation may no longer be financially viable. In such cases, the supervisor can be involved in resolutions that require a take-over by or merger with a healthier institution. When all other measures fail, the supervisor should have the ability to close or assist in the closing of an unhealthy bank in order to protect the overall stability of the banking system.