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MGT604 - Management of Financial Institutions - Lecture Handout 44

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Classic Financial Scandals

"Bankers who hire money hungry geniuses should not always express surprise and amazement when some of them turn around with brilliant, creative, and illegal means of making money." “The quotation is from a speech by the financial thriller writer on the Psychology of Risk, Speculation and Fraud, at a conference on EMU in Amsterdam. Barings Bank collapsed when one of the Singapore based employees of London's Barings Bank, Nick Leeson, lost £827 million (US$1.4 billion) - primarily on futures contract speculation. Leeson's actions led the oldest merchant bank to default on its debts. The bank's collapse is considered a pivotal turning point in the history of banking and has become a textbook example of accounting fraud.

• Internal auditing

The way that Barings Bank's activities in Singapore were organized between 1992 and 1995 enabled Leeson to operate effectively without supervision from Barings Bank's head office in London. Leeson acted both as head of settlement operations (charged with ensuring accurate accounting) and as floor manager for Barings' trading on Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX). Normally the positions would have been held by two employees. This concentration of functions placed Leeson in the position of reporting to an office inside the bank which he himself held. Several observers, including Leeson, placed much of the blame on the bank's own deficient internal auditing and risk management practices.

• Corruption

Because of the absence of oversight, Leeson was able to make seemingly small gambles in the futures market at Barings Futures Singapores (BFS) and cover for his shortfalls by reporting losses as gains to Barings in London. Specifically, Leeson altered the branch's error account, subsequently known by its account number 88888 as the "five-eight account," to prevent the London office from receiving the standard daily reports on trading, price, and
status. Leeson claims the losses started when one of his colleagues bought contracts when she should have sold them. By December 1994 Leeson had cost Barings £200 million but he reported to British tax authorities a £102 million profit. If the company had uncovered his true financial dealings then, collapse might have been avoided as Barings had capital of £350 million

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MGT604 - Management of Financial Institutions - Lecture Handout 41

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DFIs & Risk Management

Risks are usually defined by the adverse impact on profitability of several distinct sources of uncertainty. While the types and degree of risks an organization may be exposed to depend upon a number of factors such as its size, complexity business activities, volume etc, it is believed that generally the banks face Credit, Market, Liquidity, Operational,
Compliance / legal / regulatory and reputation risks. Before overarching these risk categories, given below are some basics about risk Management and some guiding principles to manage risks in banking organization.

Risk Management

Risk management is the human activity which integrates recognition of risk, risk assessment, developing strategies to manage it, and mitigation of risk using managerial resources. The strategies include transferring the risk to another party, avoiding the risk, reducing the negative effect of the risk, and accepting some or all of the consequences of a
particular risk. Some traditional risk managements are focused on risks stemming from physical or legal causes (e.g. natural disasters or fires, accidents, death and lawsuits). Financial risk management, on the other hand, focuses on risks that can be managed using traded financial instruments. Objective of risk management is to reduce different risks
related to a pre-selected domain to the level accepted by society. It may refer to numerous types of threats caused by environment, technology, humans, organizations and politics. On the other hand it involves all means available for humans, or in particular, for a risk management entity (person, staff, and organization). In every financial institution of
Pakistan, risk management activities broadly take place simultaneously at following different hierarchy levels.

  • Strategic level: It encompasses risk management functions performed by senior management. For instance definition of risks, ascertaining institutions risk appetite, formulating strategy and policies for managing risks and establish adequate systems and controls to ensure that overall risk remain within acceptable level and the reward compensate for the risk taken.
  • Macro Level: It encompasses risk management within a business area or across business lines. Generally the risk management activities performed by middle management or units devoted to risk reviews fall into this category.
  • Micro Level: It involves ‘On-the-line’ risk management where risks are actually created. This is the risk management activities performed by individuals who take risk on organization’s behalf such as front office and loan origination functions. The risk management in those areas is confined to following operational procedures and guidelines set by management.

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