Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Warning to Australian parliamentarians - the Australian people despise banking ‘bail-in’

It was only in 2012-2013 that Bank of Cyprus seized depositor funds and it seems like that Australian government has this in mind for us here Down Under. I wonder how many of our federal members of parliament (MPs) are aware of what sneaky legislation/regulation is being considered.

The press release below expands on this topic. Any feedback and comments by blog readers in other countries would be appreciated.

Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
Media Release Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Craig Isherwood‚ National Secretary
PO Box 376‚ COBURG‚ VIC 3058
Phone: 1800 636 432
Website: http://www.cecaust.com.au

Warning to MPs: More than 1,000 submissions to Senate inquiry prove Australians despise ‘bail-in’

Reflecting the overwhelming public opposition among Australians to losing their savings to prop up failing banks, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee revealed on 25 January that its inquiry into the APRA “bail-in” bill has received more than 1,000 submissions from the public. The vast majority of the submissions objected to the bail-in provisions of the bill, which would empower the bank regulator APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) to convert into worthless shares, or write off, the savings of unsuspecting mum-and-dad investors, and possibly depositors, in order to cover the gambling losses of banks and keep them afloat.

This is a stunning response—the average number of submissions to a Senate Economics Committee inquiry is 30! The submissions came from Australians who learned about the bill not from the media, which has largely blacked out any reporting of it, but from the Citizens Electoral Council. Once informed, a large number were motivated to write to the committee to express their objection. Unlike most politicians who reply to their constituents with identical form letters written by their superiors, the people who made submissions went to the effort to write their own letters.

In the face of this many submissions, which were made before the 18 December deadline, it is clear that the committee’s subsequent decision not to hold a public hearing is a cover up. A hearing would allow a public examination of the content of the submissions, including the all-important issue of whether the conversion or write-off provisions could extend to deposits, and concerns about APRA’s secrecy and complicity with the banks, which former APRA employees have raised.

The government, which controls the committee, does not want these issues aired. From the beginning, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have tried to minimise publicity for this bill—and the media has accommodated them. For the same reason, Turnbull rigged the terms of reference for the banking royal commission to exclude any examination of APRA and its policies. However, the scale of the public response to the Senate committee sounds a warning to MPs: Australians who are informed emphatically oppose bail-in, so be prepared for an electoral backlash if you agree to pass this bill.

Bail-in extends to deposits

It is undeniable that the APRA bill clears the way for the bail-in of hybrid securities, which APRA allowed the banks to sell to hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting self-funded retirees and self-managed super funds. That alone is grounds to oppose the bill, but even more concerning is that the bill as written empowers APRA to extend a bank bail-in to deposits. Both the government and APRA deny this. For instance, APRA’s submission to the Senate committee states, with forcefully underlined words, that the bill “does not include a statutory power for APRA to write-down or convert the interests of other creditors in resolution, including depositors of a failing ADI (often referred to as a ‘bail-in’ power). … APRA also notes, and fully agrees with, the statement in the FSI [2014 Financial System Inquiry] Final Report that, in Australia, deposits should not be included within any such framework, and should not be subject to bail-in.”

As Shakespeare would say, “Methinks APRA doth protest too much.” Firstly, APRA does the bidding of the global banking regulation apparatus centred in the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland, which since 2009 has overseen the implementation of a global bail-in regime that in every other jurisdiction applies to deposits. Secondly, the reassurances of APRA and the government are meaningless—the wording of the bill is what matters.

On 23 January the CEC lodged a supplementary submission to provide the committee with legal analysis that the bill is worded to ensure that APRA does indeed have the scope to extend a bail-in to deposits. Following is the summary of the CEC’s submission, which outlines the legal analysis:

  1. Summary of supplementary submission

    In summary, this Supplementary Submission has been considered necessary as a consequence of communications by Members of Parliament to constituents which seek to allay constituents’ concerns as to the Bill’s provisions concerning “bail-in”—the conversion and write-off provisions—and in particular their extension to deposits. The communications contend that the Bill does not provide any authority for the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (“APRA”) to bail-in deposits in the event of an ADI bank getting into financial difficulties.

    This contention has also been repeated by various Authorities.

    Bail-in of deposits has caused considerable hardship overseas where it has been employed and is of increasing concern to the Australian community.

    This Supplementary Submission is accordingly being lodged to draw to the Committee’s attention the relevant provisions in the Bill relating to bail-in (whether explicit or implicit) and the concerns of this organisation and the community generally as to the nature and extent of those provisions.

    As elaborated in this Supplementary Submission:

    • by all definitions financial “instruments” includes deposits;
    • the Bill clearly states that its conversion or write-off (bail-in) provisions apply to Additional Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital or “any other instrument”;
    • if the Bill only intended to refer to instruments which include conversion or write-off terms, all such instruments come under the definition of Additional Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital, and the additional clause “or any other instrument” is therefore unnecessary, but sufficiently broad language to give APRA scope to extend a bail-in to deposits;
    • the author/s of the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum foreshadow a future scenario under which this Bill will allow APRA to determine through its prudential standards that instruments not currently considered to be capital, such as deposits, could be reclassified as capital for the purpose of conversion or write-off—bail-in.

    It therefore remains our contention that the Bill does provide APRA with power to bail in deposits and for this and the reasons appearing in our primary Submission of 18 December 2017 that the Bill should be rejected.

The CEC is continuing the fight to defeat the APRA bail-in bill—join us!

What you can do:

Make sure your MP and Senators are informed about this bill and the public’s opposition to it. Take or email the CEC’s submission and supplementary submission to your MP and Senators today (click here for links), and insist on a response in writing.

Click here for a free copy of the latest issue of the CEC’s weekly magazine the Australian Alert Service, which reports on the fight against bail-in and for Glass-Steagall.

Click here to join the CEC as a member.

We hope you found this message useful.
Authorised: Robert Barwick‚ 595 Sydney Rd‚ Coburg‚ Vic 3058

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Think your Australian bank deposits are guaranteed? Think again!

On the global scale, there's quite a consensus that the banks own your money.
But that couldn't be the case in Australia, or could it?

Forwarding …
Citizens Electoral Council of Australia   
Media Release Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Craig Isherwood‚ National Secretary
PO Box 376‚ COBURG‚ VIC 3058
Phone: 1800 636 432
Email: cec@cecaust.com.au
Website: http://www.cecaust.com.au

APRA update:

Think your bank deposits are guaranteed? Think again!

A former principal researcher at bank regulator APRA has revealed in a submission to a Senate inquiry that, contrary to government reassurances, Australian bank deposits are not guaranteed.

This explosive revelation shreds the government’s repeated assurances that its new bill to give crisis resolution powers to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) will not allow the “bail-in” (confiscation) of bank deposits, because they are guaranteed up to $250,000 by the Financial Claims Scheme (FCS).

In the cover letter to his submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Financial Sector Legislation Amendment (Crisis Resolution Powers and Other Measures) Bill 2017, Dr Wilson Sy asks Committee chair Senator Jane Hume: “As a matter of urgency, I need to ask: are you prepared to have your savings in bank deposits confiscated to save insolvent banks? What about the millions of voters you represent? How would they react if you allow this to happen to them?”

Dr Sy charges that the bill “gives the Government and APRA new discretionary powers to confiscate bank deposits”, and that it should be rejected.

(Dr Sy’s submission, “Protect Deposits Not the Fraudulent System”, is the first submission posted on the Senate inquiry’s website, and can be accessed here.)

As a Principal Researcher at APRA in 2004-10, during which time he was briefly acting Head of Research for a time, Dr Sy is one of the most qualified people to comment on APRA and the powers it will be given by this bill. Both the 2008 global financial crisis and introduction of the Financial Claims Scheme occurred while he was at APRA.

FCS guarantee not activated

The essential point that Dr Sy makes is that the FCS is not an absolute guarantee. He quotes the FCS website, which makes clear that the FCS will only take effect if the government activates it when an ADI (Authorised Deposit-taking Institution—a bank, credit union, building society etc.) fails. “That is, when a bank fails, i.e. becomes insolvent, the Australian Government or APRA then has the discretion to decide whether or not to activate the FCS”, he says. “Hence, it should be emphasised that:

Bank deposits are not protected or guaranteed at all.

Under the Banking Act 1959, Dr Sy explains, APRA is responsible for two potentially conflicting objectives: the protection of depositors AND the promotion of financial stability. This depositor protection is “illusory”, he asserts, because the Banking Act doesn’t state which objective has priority.

Under the new bill, however, APRA will have the discretionary power to decide which objective has priority; alarmingly, it will be able to make such a decision “in secrecy”. Dr Sy references Subdivision D, Section 11CH (p.24) of the bill, which states that APRA may decide that its orders must be kept secret if it is “necessary to protect the depositors of any ADI OR to promote financial system stability”. (Emphasis added by Sy.) The replacement of “AND” with “OR” confirms that the objectives are in potential conflict. “Therefore”, Dr Sy continued, “it is important to recognise that the Bill allows APRA discretionary powers to decide secretly whether to protect depositors or to promote financial system stability.”

Quoting a 2012 Reserve Bank of Australia paper, which stated that the priority of regulators, mandated under Commonwealth legislation, is to “pursue financial stability”, Dr Sy concludes:

“Therefore, the evidence collected here strongly suggests that the Bill is designed to confiscate bank deposits to ‘bail in’ insolvent banks to save the financial system.”

Can’t be funded

Dr Sy’s revelation is further, damning evidence that the FCS is not a real guarantee. The Citizens Electoral Council had already exposed in 2014 that, by the regulators’ own admission, the FCS doesn’t have the money to guarantee deposits in any of the Big Four banks, which hold 80 per cent of all deposits! This was first acknowledged in a 19 June 2009 meeting of Australia’s Council of Financial Regulators, comprising APRA, ASIC and the Reserve Bank, which noted in its minutes that a failure of one of the Big Four banks would “exceed the scheme’s resources”. Later, the Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland, which is in charge of imposing a bail-in regime worldwide, noted in its 21 September 2011 “Peer Review of Australia” that the government’s $20 billion provision per bank “would not be sufficient to cover the protected deposits of any of the four major banks”, which each have more than $400 billion in deposits. The CEC presented this evidence in its submission to the Senate committee inquiry.

Defeat the APRA bill

Most members of parliament are assuring their constituents that the APRA bill—which virtually none would have read—does not mean deposits will be able to be bailed in, because deposits are guaranteed under the FCS. Dr Sy’s revelation explodes that myth. This is not an academic question. With all signs pointing to a near-term collapse of the so-called “everything bubble” comprising property markets in Australia and elsewhere, the US stock market, Bitcoin, and the US$1.2 quadrillion global derivatives trade, a looming global financial crisis threatens Australia’s banking system. It is urgent, therefore, that Australians demand their MPs reject this bill outright, and go with the Glass-Steagall banking regulation instead, which guarantees deposits and financial stability by separating commercial banks with deposits from all forms of financial speculation. As Dr Sy says in his submission: “The global financial system needs fundamental structural reform which many countries believe is the restoration of the Glass-Steagall legislation which had worked well for many decades until it was corruptly or mistakenly repealed at the turn of this century.”

What you can do

Before Christmas, upwards of 800 everyday Australians flooded the Senate committee inquiry with submissions opposing the APRA bill and demanding Glass-Steagall. The Committee is expected to hold hearings in either late January or early February, by which time it is imperative that every MP and Senator is confronted with the truth about this bill.

1. Forward this release, the CEC’s submission (download here) and Dr Sy’s submission (download here) to your local federal MP and Senators before the end of the month. If possible, print copies and deliver them in person.

2. Sign and share the CEC’s latest petition: “Global crash coming—Australia needs Glass-Steagall and a National Bank”.

Click here for a free copy of the latest issue of the CEC’s weekly magazine the Australian Alert Service, which reports on the fight against bail-in and for Glass-Steagall.

Click here to join the CEC as a member.

Click here to refer others to receive regular email updates from the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia.

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