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Reserve Bank Launches Enforcement Department

The Reserve Bank - Te Pūtea Matua has established a new standalone Enforcement Department to promote confidence in compliance across regulated sectors.

The Enforcement Department is operationally separate from the Bank’s Supervision team, but the two will work closely together to achieve the Bank’s compliance goals of incentivising and managing prudent behaviour, and holding institutions to account for non-compliance. The two departments operate within the Bank’s Financial Stability Group, which is led by Deputy Governor and General Manager of Financial Stability Geoff Bascand.

“The Enforcement Department will support the Bank’s more intensive supervisory and enforcement approach and help the Bank promote a sound and efficient financial system built on integrity, innovation and inclusion,” Mr Bascand says.

“The Bank plays an important role in ensuring financial institutions remain sound and operate with appropriate conduct and culture, and we have a low risk appetite for events that materially damage the financial system.

The new department is developing the Bank’s enforcement framework, including establishing an Enforcement Committee which will oversee enforcement actions for serious or repeated breaches of regulatory requirements. The new enforcement framework will be transparent and public.

“Our objective is to transform into a flexible and proactive regulator, with leading edge tools and technology, and the capability to use these to fully enable our evolving responsibilities, legislative powers, and expectations,” Mr Bascand says.

The Department will work closely with the different Supervision teams across the range of regulated entities in the banking, insurance and AML/CFT sectors in tracking compliance breaches and applying an escalated response to serious failures.

The Department is currently led by Ben Carruthers who joined the Bank in 2020 as a Senior Adviser. Prior to that, he worked for 12 years at the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, most recently as Senior Manager of the Litigation team.

“Ben has provided crucial strategic advice on the establishment of the Department and his background gives me confidence that the team has the capability to hit the ground running,” Mr Bascand says.

The Bank is also involved in a joint review with Treasury of the Reserve Bank’s enforcement powers, as part of the Reserve Bank Act review. The new Department will work closely with other regulators such as the FMA and the Commerce Commission in the course of their work.

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