REGISTER

Source: Bank of England

The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) has imposed a financial penalty on Metro Bank plc (Metro Bank) of £5,376,000 for failing to act with due skill, care and diligence in relation to the regulatory reporting of its capital position and for failings in its regulatory reporting governance, controls and investment with respect to its Common Reporting (COREP) returns sent to the PRA between 13 May 2016 to 23 January 2019.

On 23 January 2019, Metro Bank announced that it had adjusted the risk weightings of certain commercial loan portfolios on its balance sheet, to reflect corrections that it had made.

Sam Woods, Deputy Governor for Prudential Regulation and Chief Executive Officer of the PRA said:

“We expect firms to invest appropriate and adequate resources to ensure that they submit accurate regulatory returns. In this case, Metro Bank failed to meet the standards of governance and controls expected of it, resulting in today’s enforcement action.”

Firms are required to submit periodic financial information to the PRA, including reports as part of the COREP framework, a reporting framework introduced to standardise the reporting of capital requirements and prudential regulatory information. These COREP returns include (amongst others) quarterly reporting on a firm’s current assessment of its risk weighted assets (RWAfootnote [1]).

On 23 January 2019, Metro Bank announced to the market that it was making an adjustment to its assessment of its RWA for December 2018 of approximately £900 million as a result of Metro Bank having applied the incorrect risk weighting to certain commercial loans (the ‘2019 Announcement’). Whilst Metro Bank remained in compliance with its regulatory capital requirement, the application of the incorrect risk-weight resulted in an inaccurate picture of the firm’s regulatory capital position being presented to the PRA.

In the years before the 2019 Announcement, Metro Bank pursued a rapid growth and expansion plan and increased its number of high-street branches and customers, growing core deposits and lending. However, during this time, Metro Bank failed to ensure the commensurate development of, and investment in, governance arrangements and systems and controls relating to its COREP reporting, which it failed to design, implement or operate effectively in a number of respects.

In particular, in relation to COREP reporting, Metro Bank failed to:

take sufficient care to ensure that it complied with its obligations to make accurate reports to the PRA;
ensure effective oversight, challenge and to establish effective, clear and documented escalation routes in respect of reporting;
establish and implement effective controls in interpreting relevant regulatory rules and guidance; and
allocate appropriate and adequate resources to enable it to comply with its reporting obligations.

As a result, Metro Bank breached Fundamental Rule 2 and Fundamental Rule 6 of the PRA Rulebook. Fundamental Rule 2 requires that a firm conducts its business with due skill, care and diligence. Fundamental Rule 6 requires that a firm organises and controls its affairs responsibly and effectively. These failings impacted on the PRA’s advancement of its primary objective to promote the safety and soundness of Metro Bank.

Metro Bank agreed to resolve this matter and therefore qualified for a 30% reduction in the fine imposed by the PRA. Without this discount, the fine imposed by the PRA would have been £7,680,000.

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