After the SEC slapped JP Morgan with a $200M fine inspired by staffers’ usage of Whatsapp and private email addresses, Deutsche Bank is worried it might be next. So, it sent a reminder to its bankers reminding them that conducting company business on private devices could be a violation of American law. Bankers who use Whatsapp for business purposes are asked not to delete any pertinent messages lest they involve the bank in a criminal matter.
According to Bloomberg, DB will also be “stepping up scrutiny” of employee communications, supposedly out of concern American authorities are planning a “crack down”. The bank is in the process of devising better processes for storing Whatsapp messages sent from company phones.
DB CEO Christian Sewing said as much in late January. It’s worth noting that the memo was sent by the bank’s anti-money laundering unit as one of its “regular reminders” to staff.
The issue is a common problem for global megabanks, which have struggled to create flexible and easily usable venues for communicating among a global staff.
DB in particular has a sort of fraught history with Whatsapp, at one point banning it from company phones before it ultimately decided to embrace the app with a few important add-ons to ensure “compliance”.
Deutsche Bank has long been grappling to find a balance between modern messaging apps on the one side and banking rules that require lenders to store staff communications for regulatory scrutiny on the other.
The lender first tried to rein in WhatsApp use five years ago when it disabled the app along with text messages on company phones but it introduced software enabling WhatsApp in some circumstances three years later. It’s now working on yet another solution.
The seemingly unceasing investigations into Libor-fixing and other related market manipulation from currencies to fixed income to precious metals and beyond featured many cautionary tales about how the bankers’ who went down were often done in by their own communications.
If it hadn’t been for the chat logs, the investigations likely wouldn’t have proceeded.