Risk Management

Fed Slaps Santander With Broad Enforcement Action

The U.S. unit of Spain's Santander Group is faulted for deficiencies in capital management, internal audit, and risk and liquidity management.
Katie Kuehner-HebertJuly 8, 2015

The Federal Reserve Tuesday issued an enforcement action against Santander Holdings USA ordering the bank to significantly improve its risk management practices — an issue that Spanish parent Santander Group has been struggling with since Ana Botín took the helm of the financial institution last September.

Under the Fed’s order, the Boston-based unit agreed to submit a written plan to the Fed within 60 days that will, among other things, detail actions that its board will take to maintain effective control over risk management, capital planning, and liquidity risk management.

The Fed is also requiring a formal project plan, including milestones, timetables, success measures, and adequate funding for personnel and other resources, to ensure the development and implementation of the remedial actions required by the Fed’s order.

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However, the Fed did order Santander to pay a fine.

A Dow Jones article said the action was unusually broad in scope, as the Fed’s enforcement actions have typically targeted discrete problems, such as anti-money-laundering controls or mortgage underwriting, rather than reaching across an organization.

Santander previously disclosed the Fed was preparing action against it, announcing last week that Santander Consumer’s chief executive, Thomas Dundon, was stepping down. Since September Botín has prioritized a U.S. cleanup, appointing a new chairman, chief executive, and board members to the holding company.

“Santander’s U.S. holding company, which represented 14% of the bank’s total net profit in the first quarter, has been an outsize regulatory headache for new Executive Chairman Ana Botín,” Dow Jones wrote. “Analysts and investors are watching closely to see if she successfully addresses regulatory concerns, or struggles to turn operations around.”

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