At the initiative of the Dutch Banking Association (Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken), the Dutch Financial Markets Amendment Act 2015 (Wijzigingswet financiële markten 2015) introduced an oath for employees in the Dutch financial sector, effective as of 1 April 2015. The oath is applicable to employees of financial undertakings such as banks, insurance companies, investment firms and intermediaries.
Disciplinary regulations introduced together with the oath only apply to bank employees. With the introduction of disciplinary regulations, the Dutch banking sector aims to contribute to safeguarding and enhancing the quality of the banking sector.
Effective 1 April 2015, section 3:17b of the Dutch Financial Supervision Act (Wet op het financieel toezicht, the "Wft") requires that banks with a registered office in the Netherlands ensure that their employees take the bankers oath, which comprises several integrity related statements. Section 3:17c Wft requires banks to implement a code of conduct, corresponding to the general code of conduct for bankers, that must be complied with by the bank's employees. Sections 3:8 and 3:17b Wft specify which employees are required to take the oath. In short, it concerns individuals who: (i) determine the day-to-day policy of the bank, (ii) substantially influence the risk profile of the bank, (iii) are directly involved in providing financial services and (iv) are supervisory board members (if applicable). In the event that an employee who has taken the oath violates the code of conduct, such individual can be disciplined through disciplinary regulations. These regulations have a statutory basis, but are enforced by the sector itself. Almost 90,000 bank employees in the Netherlands are expected to take the bankers' oath.
Any person (e.g. consumers, regulators, employers) can report a complaint about an employee who has allegedly violated the oath and the code of conduct to the Disciplinary Regulations for Banks Board (Stichting Tuchtrecht Banken, the "Disciplinary Board"). Only complaints regarding personal conduct of bank employees (occurring after 1 April 2015) can be reported to the Disciplinary Board. Complaints regarding the conduct of a bank, can be addressed to the Financial Services Complaints Institute or to a civil court.
The Disciplinary Board is responsible for executing the disciplinary regulations and the associated code of conduct. This has been outsourced to the Dutch Securities Institute ("DSI"), a self-regulated body created by the financial services industry. If the DSI is of the opinion that the employee violated the code of conduct, the complaint will be presented to an independent Disciplinary Committee (Tuchtcommissie). After a hearing, during which the employee has to account for his conduct, the Disciplinary Committee may, in accordance with the disciplinary regulations, impose sanctions on the employee (e.g. formal warning, temporary suspension of duties, a fine or taking mandatory courses). The sanctions imposed on the employee will be temporarily recorded in a register that can only be accessed by banks (Tuchtrechtelijk Register). The employee or the prosecutor (managing director of the DSI) can appeal against the decision of the Disciplinary Committee to the Appeal Committee (Commissie van Beroep).