Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

ABN Amro Fires Some Mortgage Advisers in Signature Copying Probe

  • As many as 10 staff cut as Dutch lender closes investigation
  • Dutch bank found 114 staff broke mortgage paperwork rules

ABN Amro Group NV said it fired some mortgage advisers and cut performance-related pay after it found 114 staff copied client signatures, closing a probe the Dutch bank started more than six months ago.

The government-owned lender terminated as many as 10 staff out of more than 850 advisers, a spokesman for the Amsterdam-based bank said Thursday. The bank said in a separate statement that it uncovered the violations in the investigation it started in November, which focused on whether mortgage advisers complied with an internal rule requiring them to get clients to sign amended paperwork.

ABN Amro said on Nov. 8 that it had started probing its mortgage procedures after initially finding nine advisers copied clients’ signatures, leading Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem to label the violations as “fraud” even if there was no material damage for customers. The bank said clients suffered financial losses in just three cases involving less than 1,000 euros ($1,126), which have now been compensated.

“Every copied signature is one too many – it’s unacceptable,” ABN Amro’s chief of retail banking, Frans van der Horst, said in a statement on the lender’s website Thursday. “But given how complex we have made this procedure for our people, I do understand the difficult position we have put them in. As an organization, we too are at fault.”

The violations relate to a procedural change introduced in 2013, when the bank started requiring advisers to get clients to sign amended reports. Between that year and 2016, the bank wrote 47,826 mortgage advice reports, of which 9,900 were later amended. In about 700 of such cases, a copied signature was found in the file.

ABN Amro is still 70 percent owned by the Dutch state, which plans to sell off its investment over time. The lender is a remnant of the company that fell prey to a takeover in 2007 by a group including Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Banco Santander SA and Fortis NV. The Netherlands stepped in the following year to rescue the bank in the throes of the financial crisis, spending almost 22 billion euros in the process.

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