ABN Amro to Fire Staff in Mortgage Signature Misconduct ProbeBy and
Mortgage advisers copied signatures on amended documentation
Investigation continues as ABN reviews more than 9,000 files
ABN Amro Group NV will fire some of the mortgage advisers that copied client signatures on amended loan documents and eliminate bonuses for others after a probe found 90 staff broke the Dutch bank’s internal rules.
“Several dozen” employees have been reprimanded and won’t get their 2016 bonus, and the ongoing probe may discover more breaches, spokesman Jarco de Swart said by phone Wednesday. “A small amount” of advisers have been given notice of their dismissal, he said. The bank doesn’t believe there was a cost to clients.
ABN Amro uncovered the violations last month after investigating whether mortgage advisers were complying with a rule requiring clients to sign off on amended paperwork. While the bank said some clients indicated it wastes time to be asked for signatures on often minor changes to loan applications, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the wrongdoing amounted to fraud and was “very serious,” even if the borrowers suffered no material damage.
ABN Amro announced the probe on Nov. 8 after nine advisers were found to have copied signatures. In 2013, the bank began requiring advisers to get clients to sign amended reports. More than 9,000 files are being reviewed in the probe.
“I sincerely regret this could have happened and that we damaged trust by this,” Frans Woelders, head of retail banking at ABN Amro, said on Nov. 25. “We will do everything we can to repair that. I also would like to stress there are more than 800 mortgage advisers who did not make this choice.”
ABN Amro gained 1.1 percent to 21.47 euros at 11 a.m. in Amsterdam trading. The lender, which returned to the stock market about a year ago, is up about 5 percent in 2016, compared with a 8 percent drop by the Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index.
Under government ownership, ABN Amro transformed itself from one of the world’s largest banks to a consumer lender focused on the Netherlands. ABN Amro was bailed out in the financial crisis and is still 70 percent owned by the Dutch state, which plans to sell off its investment over time. Chief Executive Officer Gerrit Zalm, who took the reins after the bailout and brought it back to the stock market in November 2015, is stepping down next year.