Deutsche Bank bans text messages, WhatsApp on company phones

Deutsche Bank AG has banned text messages and communication apps such as WhatsApp on company-issued phones in an effort to improve compliance standards. The functionality will be switched off this quarter, chief regulatory officer Sylvie Matherat and chief operating officer Kim Hammonds told staff in a memo on Friday. Unlike e-mails, text messages can’t be archived by the bank, said a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. “We fully understand that the deactivation will change your day-to-day work and we regret any inconvenience this may cause,” Matherat and Hammonds said in the memo obtained by Bloomberg. “However, this step is necessary to ensure Deutsche Bank continues to comply with regulatory and legal requirements.” The policy also applies to private phones used by employees for work purposes. Communication apps such as WhatsApp, Google Talk, iMessage are also prohibited, the memo said. Deutsche Bank is working to improve compliance and clean up a reputation dented by a series of probes into its role in the sale of toxic debt, manipulation of interest-rate benchmarks and failure to prevent possible money laundering in Russia. Chief Executive Officer John Cryan, who has made changing the culture at the bank a key pillar of his revamp, last month reached a $7.2 billion agreement in principle with the Department of Justice to settle an investigation into the bank’s sales of mortgage securities before the financial crisis. Deutsche Bank has been slapped with more than $13.9 billion in fines and legal settlements since the start of 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That includes a $3.1 billion penalty it agreed to pay in the preliminary settlement with the DOJ. It doesn’t include $4.1 billion in relief to borrowers that the bank agreed to provide over at least five years. (Steven Arons and Ambereen Choudhury/Bloomberg)

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