China tightens regulations on ownership of unlisted banks

China tightens regulations on ownership of unlisted banks
By Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has tightened ownership regulations of unlisted commercial banks, as regulators intensify a crackdown on financial risk following the recent state takeover of a regional lender that has caused major ripples in the nation’s financial markets.

Revised guidelines posted on Tuesday by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) on its website require unlisted commercial banks to register their stakeholders with qualified custodians by end-June 2020, and all commercial banks to identify their shareholders by the end of 2021.

Before the new guidelines, which are binding, only banks listed in the main stock market and over-the-counter market needed to register their stakeholders with custodian institutions such as regional equity exchanges, according to the banking and insurance regulator.

“In recent years, some banks have seen chaotic issues on ownership due to weak corporate governance,” the CBIRC said in a separate statement elaborating on the guidelines.

“Therefore, from the perspective of prudential supervision, CBIRC now requires unlisted commercial banks to register with legally established custodians as well.”

The banking regulator is stepping up a campaign of fighting financial risk following the state takeover in May of small-sized Baoshang Bank amid concerns about how its major shareholder had used bank funds.

The takeover was triggered by the improper and illegal use of significant bank funds by Tomorrow Holdings, which held 89% of Baoshang’s shares, leading to a serious credit crisis at the bank, according to a previous statement of the central bank.

(Reporting by Cheng Leng and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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