NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 14:04
The American investment bank Morgan Stanley has issued fines to employees who used WhatsApp and other chat services for business conversations. Fines range from a few thousand dollars to more than $1 million per person, according to the Financial Times.
The fines are the result of previous fines imposed on the banks themselves by two US regulators. They concluded a few years ago that employees of many large banks used unauthorized messaging apps or their private phones at work, among other things to communicate with customers and to close business deals.
That is not allowed, because those conversations can hardly be checked, if at all, while this is mandatory. Financial watchdogs in the United States must be able to request business communications for investigation where necessary. In September, the US regulators SEC and CFTC therefore imposed approximately USD 2 billion in fines on sixteen banks.
Morgan Stanley was then fined $ 200 million, which now appears to be partly passed on to employees. According to the Financial Times, the amount of the fines depends, among other things, on the amount of messages sent and the time the employee worked at Morgan Stanley. Depending on the amount, the fines are deducted from the salary or previously paid bonuses are reclaimed.
In determining the amount of the fine, it also played a role in whether the penalized employee had already been warned about the use of WhatsApp and other chat services. The problem has been known to Morgan Stanley for some time: in 2020, the company fired two top bankers for using private apps to discuss work matters.
Other banks were also laid off because of the reprimand from US regulators, including Credit Suisse and HSBC. However, according to the Financial Times, Morgan Stanley has been hardest hit by the investigation.
The newspaper writes that the investment bank is now providing training on the subject to employees. In it, they learn when to transfer conversations with private phones or via WhatsApp to business channels, such as work email. This can include seemingly innocent conversations, such as when co-workers agree on a time or location for a meeting. Substantive conversations often quickly follow from this, according to the Financial Times.
Whether Dutch banks also have to deal with rules for using WhatsApp for business conversations, for example, is not clear. The Dutch Banking Association (NVB) is not directly familiar with such guidelines. The same applies to the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), which supervise the Dutch financial market.
Individual banks may have drawn up their own rules on this subject. The NOS has made inquiries with the three largest banks, but that has not yet provided a clear picture.
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