Banking supervision audits: ECA writes to Parliament

banking supervision audits
© iStock/Stephan Behnes

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has written to the European Parliament over banking supervision audits of the European Central Bank (ECB).

The ECA has requested EU legislators intervene in its audit of the bank, alleging that the ECB’s policies regarding access to documents and data are hampering the court in carrying out banking supervision audits. Auditors say ensuring the correct and appropriate levels of supervision in banking through a comprehensive review process is necessary to minimise the risk to public funds; but that the bank is not cooperating in allowing auditors access to the documents they need.

The European Central Bank is singly responsible for supervising large banks in eurozone Member States. The auditors say their discussions with the bank have not made the progress they had hoped; and their letter therefore calls on the European Parliament and Council to support their right to access documents relating to the banking supervision audits they wish to conduct.

In their letter to Parliament, the Court of Auditors identify three significant occasions when they have been denied access to crucial information when conducting banking supervision audits:

  • Auditing the Single Supervisory Mechanism in 2016, they experienced “severe difficulties” obtaining the evidence they needed;
  • When conducting a special report on the Single Resolution Board in 2017, the board removed any data originating from the ECB; and
  • In January 2018, when auditors attempted to conduct a thorough review of the ECB’s role in crisis management with regard to banking supervision, the bank denied the auditors access to the necessary documents, rendering their banking supervision audits functionally incomplete.

Klaus-Heiner Lehne, President of the European Court of Auditors, said: “We are not seeking to audit monetary policy, but it is essential that we have full powers to audit the ECB’s supervisory activities. This is particularly important given the high risks to public funds from banking failures and the complexity of the new supervisory mechanisms.”

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