Bank of England says COVID hitting timing of Basel bank capital rules

A person stands outside the Bank of England in London
A person stands outside the Bank of England in London, Britain, September 13, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

September 13, 2021

(Adds BoE official’s full name in fourth paragraph)

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Countries are facing “challenges” in rolling out final elements of tougher global bank capital rules and may need to coordinate on timing, a senior Bank of England official said on Monday.

The rollout of the rules known as Basel III began after the global financial crisis over a decade ago highlighted how banks were holding too little capital, forcing taxpayers to bail many of them out.

Banks, particularly in Europe, have been lobbying to ease the rules, saying they need to focus on helping economies recover from COVID 19.

“We should get on and do it and not wait for anything,” BoE executive director for prudential supervision Victoria Saporta told an event held by the Institute of International Finance, a banking industry body.

Central bankers and banking regulators from the European Union called on the bloc last week to implement the remaining Basel rules in full and on time as it prepares to set out its proposals for implementing the rules.

The rules have already been delayed a year to January 2023 due to COVID.

Saporta said the BoE is “working hard” to set out how it wants to implement Basel III, but this may not be done by year end as hoped.

“Our work on Basel III has been delayed somewhat by our responses to the pandemic,” Saporta said.

“We are finding that the package is challenging.”

The BoE has to show it has taken account of how other jurisdictions also implement global rules like Basel, but the EU has yet to publish its own proposals.

“Our intelligence so far is that other major jurisdictions like the EU, the United States and others are also facing challenges in terms of the timing,” Saporta said.

“We do think it would be ideal for the package to be implemented at a very similar time in the major jurisdictions, so we are very open to coordinating with others to do that,” she added.

(This story adds BoE official’s full name in fourth paragraph)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Toby Chopra)