British banks will be forced to separate retail and investment operations in a bid to stop rogue – or systemic – speculation on international finance markets from putting ordinary people’s savings at risk.
Bank bosses are also to be made criminally liable if their institution fails, according to a new raft of finance industry reforms approved by lawmakers on Monday.
The sweeping changes are aimed at tackling the structural and cultural failings which led to the near-collapse of the country’s financial sector.
“This is a major milestone and marks the end of a three-year process, led by the government, to make the UK banking system stronger and safer so that it can support the economy, help businesses and serve consumers,” said Sajid Javid, the minister in charge of the bill.
Javid said the new laws would help improve bankers’ standards of conduct, generate extra competition in the industry and prevent British taxpayers from footing the bill for any future bank failures.
The bill also introduces new rules to make sure bankers’ bonuses are paid over a longer term, to stamp out excessive risk-taking.
The reforms, dubbed “a new era of banking industry oversight”, are the result of a lengthy legislative process started after the 2007/8 financial crisis and a series of mis-selling and rate-fixing scandals which shone a light on illegal and unethical behaviour at some of Britain’s biggest banks.
“We have had this crisis. The horse has bolted, what we have got to do now is devise a stable door that can keep the next horse in,” said Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, speaking in parliament last week.
The package is expected to receive a rubber stamp approval from Queen Elizabeth II and become law later this week.