Watchdog slams EU agency for letting boss join lobby group
Emily O’Reilly says European Banking Authority mishandled Adam Farkas' move to AFME.
The EU’s banking regulator should have stopped its executive director from joining a financial lobbying association, the European ombudsman said Monday.
Emily O’Reilly’s verdict came after an inquiry into Adam Farkas’ exit from the European Banking Authority to become chief executive of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe’s (AFME).
“Public authorities cannot allow themselves to become proxy recruiters for the industries they are regulating,” the Irishwoman said in a statement.
The ombudsman presented two findings of maladministration by the EBA.
The first is the regulator should have “forbidden the job move.”
The agency also failed to immediately block Farkas’ access to confidential information when it learned of his new career plans on August 1. It was only from October 31 that he was kept out of the regulator’s policy and supervisory work.
The regulator prohibited Farkas from contacting the agency’s staff for 24 months after joining AFME, where he started work in February. The Hungarian is also blocked from personally lobbying for the banking industry for 18 months.
But there’s no way of policing those measures, O’Reilly said.
A spokeswoman said the EBA is confident “the restrictions we have put on the former Executive Director to limit the conflict of interest were commensurate and proportionate.”
“We take note of and respect the Ombudsman’s findings, which we will assess and start working immediately on a plan to respond to them,” she added.
AFME declined to comment, because the Ombudsman’s report is specifically targeted at the EBA.
Cristina Gonzalez contributed reporting.