FSA chief calls for banks "living wills"

LONDON (Reuters) - Financial regulator Chairman Lord Adair Turner backed plans to make systemically important banks draw up “living wills” or wind-down plans in case they fail, the FT reported on Thursday.

The Chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Adair Turner, arrives for a memorial service for former Bank of England Governor Eddie George at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London July 27, 2009. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

“Living wills will be a forcing device for the clarification and simplification of legal structures,” the head of the Financial Services Authority was cited as telling the newspaper in an interview.

Turner noted that this move would also unravel banks’ structural complexity used to minimise taxes and called for clarity in their legal structures, FT said.

Scarred by the failure of Lehman Brothers a year ago, policymakers in both the United States and the European Union have been pressing for a regime that would allow for the orderly closing of global financial institutions.

Turner, who sits on the Financial Stability Board, which in turn sets the framework for the global rule-setters on the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, defended in the interview the speed of the regulatory response to the banking crisis.

Related Coverage

He also batted away criticism from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who had expressed irritation with the committee’s progress.

“The world does not have a smooth decision-making process on international regulation,” Turner was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

He said the new rules, due to be in force by the end of next year, would see capital requirements on certain risky trading activities raised by a multiple of three to five, although a bank’s overall capital requirement would not be changed fundamentally.

“Now we will shift the burden around the other way,” Turner said.

“There could be products where bluntly we say we don’t think you should be doing it and we will hit you with such high capital requirements that you will think twice,” he told the newspaper.

Reporting by Cecilia Valente; Editing by Richard Chang