Sanctions Painkiller: Series of webinars on navigating sanctions compliance

Sanctions Painkiller: Series of the webinar on navigating sanctions compliance

Amid the shifting and rapidly deteriorating geopolitical landscape, companies find themselves increasingly exposed to the risk of sanctions, operational and supervisory problems, and obligations to comply with regulations from multiple jurisdictions and organisations. Compliance measures must become more sophisticated to avoid facing penalties and reputational risks.
Over the years, the EU has imposed sanctions on a number of countries and entities, such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. In the last months, the EU and its allies have imposed a stringent sanction regime on Russia and Russian entities, amid the Ukrainian crisis.
Against this backdrop, the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute is pleased to launch a series of webinars aimed at providing critical intelligence, best practices, and key methods that institutions in the financial industry can employ the navigate the current sanction regime.
In the first webinar, speakers from Pideeco, will provide guidance and concrete examples on global sanctions and controls restrictions that will facilitate smooth overview and productive discussions.


Overtime for Ukrainian war refugees: DSGV employees donate over 100,000 euros through extra work

Overtime for Ukrainian war refugees: DSGV employees donate over 100,000 euros through extra work

Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War with millions fleeing their country. At the same time, it has triggered various actions and reactions from the European Commission and EU regulators that heavily affect banks.
ESBG members have raised to the challenges that the crisis in Ukraine has created. On one hand, they are sharing knowledge and best practices in a coordinated way to tackle the challenges as they raise. On the other, European savings and retail banks have reaffirmed their commitment to social responsibility with direct actions and initiatives to support people in need.

Overtime for Ukrainian war refugees: DSGV employees donate over 100,000 euros through extra work

Employees of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association (DSGV) have so far collected more than €100,000 for Ukrainian war refugees. The proud sum was raised because employees donated part of their overtime. The DSGV converted the overtime donation into a corresponding cash donation.
With the overtime donation, DSGV supports various projects that benefit war refugees from Ukraine, including “Arrival Support Berlin”, “Support for Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova”, “Ukraine-Hilfe Lobetal” and the Ukraine aid of “wildtierrettung.de”. The initiatives have in common that they make it easier for people to arrive in Germany and thus make an important contribution in a difficult life situation.

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Stand with Ukraine: Erste family provides extensive humanitarian aid

Stand with Ukraine: Erste family provides extensive humanitarian aid

Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War with millions fleeing their country. At the same time, it has triggered various actions and reactions from the European Commission and EU regulators that heavily affect banks.
ESBG members have raised to the challenges that the crisis in Ukraine has created. On one hand, they are sharing knowledge and best practices in a coordinated way to tackle the challenges as they raise. On the other, European savings and retail banks have reaffirmed their commitment to social responsibility with direct actions and initiatives to support people in need.

Erste Bank Group (Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia): Together with its subsidiary banks and ERSTE Foundation, Erste Group has been implementing a comprehensive package of humanitarian support measures for Ukrainians. For instance, since Monday 14 March 2022, the Caritas Day Centre at Erste Campus in Vienna has been welcoming Ukrainians in need from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. – seven days a week. People on the move also have access to WiFi and quiet zones. A children’s play corner is also provided for the little ones thanks to SOS Children’s Village. In addition, all payments from Erste Group accounts to Ukraine are free of charge, with any fees incurred being refunded after the transfer to facilitate private aid payments and donations to organizations. Erste Group’s subsidiary banks offer access to free accounts for Ukrainian refugees to facilitate money transfers. Moreover, Erste Group will support its partner organizations Caritas and the International Red Cross with donations of one million euros each. In addition, the Romanian subsidiary bank BCR donated a total of 100,000 euros to Save the Children, the Red Cross, and Romanian government initiatives

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The German Savings Banks Association ( DSVG ): More than 100,000 accounts already opened for Ukrainian war refugees

The German Savings Banks Association ( DSVG ): More than 100,000 accounts already opened for Ukrainian war refugees

Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War with millions fleeing their country. At the same time, it has triggered various actions and reactions from the European Commission and EU regulators that heavily affect banks.
ESBG members have raised to the challenges that the crisis in Ukraine has created. On one hand, they are sharing knowledge and best practices in a coordinated way to tackle the challenges as they raise. On the other, European savings and retail banks have reaffirmed their commitment to social responsibility with direct actions and initiatives to support people in need.

DSVG (Germany): As of 27 April 2022, the German Savings Banks Association had provided Ukrainian refugees with more than 136.000 bank accounts. Refugees can easily apply online for a GiroExpress account with their ID thanks to a simplified procedure. Moreover, DSGV is providing all relevant information on bank accounts in Ukrainian and is working on extending the service to online banking, its platform for job seekers, etc. DSVG is also supporting the initiative #UnterkunftUkraine (Accommodation Ukraine) which connects volunteers with refugees looking for temporary accommodation. By the end of April, the initiative offered temporary accommodation to 24,000 people in 150 German cities, offering almost 370,000 beds, which makes #UnterkunftUkraine currently the platform with the most bed offers.

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CaixaBank has been leveraging its network of branches in Spain to assist asylum seekers and refugees fleeing Ukraine

CaixaBank has been leveraging its network of branches in Spain to assist asylum seekers and refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War with millions fleeing their country. At the same time, it has triggered various actions and reactions from the European Commission and EU regulators that heavily affect banks.
ESBG members have raised to the challenges that the crisis in Ukraine has created. On one hand, they are sharing knowledge and best practices in a coordinated way to tackle the challenges as they raise. On the other, European savings and retail banks have reaffirmed their commitment to social responsibility with direct actions and initiatives to support people in need.

CaixaBank (Spain): Since late February, CaixaBank has been leveraging its network of branches in Spain to assist asylum seekers and refugees fleeing Ukraine. Ukrainian refugees in Spain are eligible for several free services, regardless of which bank they use. Since the early stages of the emergency, CaixaBank set up interpretation and translation services to make it easy for newly arrived people from Ukraine to sign up for basic financial services. As other customers in vulnerable situations do, Ukrainians can open a Social Account at CaixaBank, which includes a checking account, a bank card, and access to online banking free of charge. Moreover, customers of Ukrainian banks are allowed to use CaixaBank’s entire network of ATMs in Spain for free.

Since early March, CaixaBank has been offering free money transfers to Ukraine and neighboring countries, where Ukrainian civilians seek refuge: Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland.
Among the wide range of measures to facilitate aid to the Ukrainian people, CaixaBank collaborated with the CaixaBank Volunteers Association, with more than 5,000 members spread throughout Spain, to mobilize a convoy of buses to the Polish-Ukrainian border and help evacuate people wishing to request asylum in Spain. A total of 204 Ukrainians, mostly young women, and children, have already arrived in Spain thanks to this initiative, and a second convoy was scheduled for the end of April.

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Ukraine: ESBG members reaffirm their social responsibility

Ukraine: ESBG members reaffirm their social responsibility

Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War with millions fleeing their country. At the same time, it has triggered various actions and reactions from the European Commission and EU regulators that heavily affect banks.
ESBG members have raised to the challenges that the crisis in Ukraine has created. On one hand, they are sharing knowledge and best practices in a coordinated way to tackle the challenges as they raise. On the other, European savings and retail banks have reaffirmed their commitment to social responsibility with direct actions and initiatives to support people in need.

Associazione di Fondazioni e di Casse di Risparmio (ACRI) (Italy): On 7 March, ACRI allocated an extraordinary contribution of 2 million euros to support the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) assisting Ukrainian refugees fleeing their country.

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Strengthening the quality of corporate reporting and its enforcement in the EU

The EU corporate reporting framework has been developed with the purpose of ensuring that companies publish the right quantity and quality of relevant information with the ultimate purpose of allowing investors and other interested stakeholders to assess companies’ performance and governance and to take decisions based on that.

The consultation aims to evaluate the impact of the EU framework on the three pillars of high quality and reliable corporate reporting: corporate governance, statutory audit and supervision. This position paper is based on ESBG’s response to the consultation.
The European Commission adopted its proposal for a EUGBS in July 2021 and later launched a public consultation. In this context, ESBG has recently finalised a position paper that indicated some of the main concerns with the adopted proposal.

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Covid 19 WSBI Statement

United efforts indispensable to overcome crisis

We welcome both the decision to update the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP) Guidelines and the overarching objectives to increase convergence of practices across the EU and to align with other relevant EBA Guidelines.

The financial industry faces an unprecedented challenge that may last for quite some time due to the coronavirus pandemic, states a letter for policymakers worldwide from savings and retail banking association WSBI. Signed by its President Isidro Fainé and Managing Director Chris De Noose, the letter says focus starts with saving as many lives as possible, eradicating the coronavirus pandemic and ensuring that the so-called “real economy” suffers as little as possible from vast Covid-19-caused economic damage.

Support measures done so far by governments can help SMEs, WSBI writes, expecially the the self-employed and individuals, as well as larger, heavily affected industries such as the services sector at large, in particular manufacturing, transport and tourism.

“Economic, financial, fiscal and social measures need to be designed and implemented straightaway, the letter states, adding “international cooperation is of utmost importance. The world needs to face the coronavirus crisis with decisive actions in a united and well-coordinated manner.”

Committed to people, communities, SMEs and beyond

Savings and retail banks fully commit to supporting their customers, the letter states, be it individual people, families, SMEs, institutions, young people, the elderly and society in general who live in urban as well as in rural areas. “We aim to figure out the best, sustainable solutions. Locally rooted savings and retail banks have a crucial stabilising function in times of crisis with their infrastructure, closer relationship with customers and continuous lending.” WSBI member banks help SMEs and other companies overcome liquidity bottlenecks and provide stability. “For this to succeed,” WSBI added, “everything possible should be done in regulatory and macroprudential terms to maintain the liquidity and credit supply.”

On firmer footing since crisis

Playing an essential part of the solution, savings and retail banks see major financial reforms during the past decade have made their banks safer, more stable and more resilient in the face of shocks. Facing the coronavirus on stronger footing, their inclusive and socially committed approach to banking remains vital and steadfast during challenging times like these, they note.

WSBI added: “Clients of savings and retail banks can continue to rely on their banks as partners that do their utmost to mitigate the effects of this critical situation. Now, more than ever, we will stand strong to provide confidence, comfort and trust when customers and communities need it most.”

Policy ideas to give banks enough flexibility

WSBI members welcome the measures already taken by authorities, and proposes ideas to give banks “enough flexibility to continue supporting their customers. Some steps already taken need additional guidance and extended scope to achieve their objectives.” They include:

  • temporarily relax the rules when it comes to capital and liquidity buffers
  • increase monitoring, develop contingency plans and provide additional support for the most hard-hit sectors – tourism, transportation and the hospitality industry – by easing the tax burden for certain much-affected firms in vulnerable regions.
  • a plan to recover economic activity and production of goods and services and to stimulate consumption to prevent the economy from recession.
  • public authorities should free up additional capital and provide loan guarantees
  • flexibility on the asset quality assessment of loans by supervisors when public moratoria on payments have been implemented. This would also strengthen banks in temporarily supporting solvent clients facing liquidity difficulties.

IFRS 9 accounting standard implementation for the recognition of loan loss provisions should take into account the disruptive Covid-19 crisis. It is crucial that banks are granted enough manoeuvring room to modify the payment schedule of the affected borrowers without affecting their accounting provisions nor their solvency; that is, avoiding the increase in non-performing assets that would derive from the current regulations.

​Global coordination, relief measures much needed

At national and regional level, much can be done through coordination among policymakers, keeping neighbors in mind. At a global level, need exists for G20 to prioritise global financial stability, a sustainable and swift recovery and a balanced development as common goals. The recent G7 leaders’ commitment to do ‘whatever is necessary’ to support the global economy, a very well received first step, but future decisions regarding interpretation, adjustments, and tailoring of regulations must be properly coordinated at global level via the Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee, the International Organization of Securities Commissions and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors. The IMF has also underlined the need for global coordination in its recent paper on policy.

What happens next

WSBI suggests in its statement that regulatory authorities ask themselves if new regulatory requirements that are planned to be implemented in 2020-2022 are critical, or, if there is a possibility, that they can be delayed by 1-2 years, depending on how the crisis further develops. Even if only a part of the upcoming regulation could be delayed this would certainly help banks, and other players, to focus their resources on critical immediate action.

Once the emergency has been overcome and the situation is stable, it may be useful to carry out an impact assessment in order to see what measures should be taken to ensure that the global economy is still growing.

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WSBI statement on Covid-19: united efforts to overcome the crisis are indispensable

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