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2013年10月30日 (水)

みずほ改善計画 信頼回復への道筋が見えない

The Yomiuri Shimbun October 30, 2013
Mizuho has a tough row to hoe before it can regain public trust
みずほ改善計画 信頼回復への道筋が見えない(10月29日付・読売社説)

Mizuho Bank appears to have hastily tried to end its lending scandal with lenient punishments. Given such lax punitive steps, the megabank faces a rocky path ahead to regain public trust that was lost by extending loans to gangsters.

Mizuho should show strong determination to make a fresh start, even considering an overhaul of its management system.

In connection with Mizuho’s loans to mobsters via its affiliated credit company, Orient Corp., among other entities, the bank has submitted to the Financial Services Agency a business improvement plan incorporating internal punishments and measures to prevent a recurrence of problematic lending.

Fifty-four current and former executives are subject to punishment. The penalties included dismissal of two executives in charge of compliance and pay cuts for 40 other executives. Yasuhiro Sato will remain president but have six months of his salary docked. Takashi Tsukamoto will step down as chairman of Mizuho Bank but remain as chairman of the bank’s parent, Mizuho Financial Group.

Former bank President Satoru Nishibori and 11 other former executives will be asked to return executive compensation.

The announced punishments are far from adequate as the current management will remain in place. Sato said at a news conference: “It’s extremely regrettable. We’ll deeply reflect on it.” But we cannot help but wonder whether he seriously considers his responsibility over such irregularities.

A third-party committee established to investigate the Mizuho scandal criticized the bank by saying in a report, “The bank lacked awareness as an organization of the importance of tackling the task of cutting off relations with antisocial groups.”

The committee has also pointed out that the contracts on which loans were extended to mobsters failed to include a clause that excluded loans to organized crime syndicates. The bank’s response to the scandal was far too lenient.

The committee, consisting of three lawyers, investigated the case for only about 20 days. Some people are doubtful whether the panel spent sufficient time trying to learn the truth.

Correct corporate culture

It was natural that Mizuho’s business improvement plan included establishment of a special section on the elimination of organized crime groups and introduction of board directors from outside. Efforts must be made thoroughly to prevent a recurrence of similar scandals.

Most imperative of all is to fundamentally rectify the bank’s corporate culture that has led to repeated irregularities since it was established in 2002 through the merger of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank and the Industrial Bank of Japan.

The turf-consciousness displayed by executives for the banks they hailed from led to a serious lack of corporate governance. This could be a factor behind the bank’s failure to deal with the loan scandal swiftly.

There are views within Mizuho calling for the current top management to be maintained to avoid a confrontation by elements in the three former banks over the selection of their successors. Such an inward-looking attitude will not lead to establishing “one Mizuho.”

In its on-site investigation of the bank, the FSA accepted at face value the bank’s explanation, that “the top management did not know about [the loans to mobsters],” thereby overlooking what actually happened. Was there any malicious attempt to prevent an additional probe? The FSA should investigate the scandal again and much more strictly.

If Mizuho’s business improvement plan is found to be flawed, the financial watchdog should consider additional administrative punishments.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 29, 2013)
(2013年10月29日02時05分  読売新聞)


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