British lawmakers want more detail on bank ring-fence plan

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Britain's Independent Commission on Banking needs to publish more detailed proposals on plans for banks to ring-fence retail operations from investment banking activities, lawmakers said Wednesday.

The Commission, set up by the government last year to consider reform in the wake of the global financial crisis, has called for a "ring-fencing" of retail businesses so as to prevent investment division losses to sink the banks.

The ICB's initial report, published in April, followed fierce criticism over so-called casino banking -- a term used to describe the high risks taken by investment bankers denounced for their role in the 2008 financial crisis.

In a response published on Wednesday, parliament's influential treasury select committee said that the report lacked information.

"The ICB proposals for a ring-fence as yet contain little detail," said a statement from the committee, adding that this made it difficult to evaluate the "pros and cons" of the plans.

"We urge the ICB to come up with a more detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of various forms of ring-fence and with robust estimates of the cost to the banks and the social costs and attempt to secure some measure of agreement with the banks on these figures," the statement continued.

There were concerns that suggestions for a more drastic overhaul -- full structural separation between retail and investment banking activities -- had not received sufficient analysis, it added.

"This thin treatment by the ICB of full separation ... is not convincing as a demonstration that full consideration has been given to this option. The ICB must explain in greater detail why they came to this decision," it said.

The ICB, which will publish its final report on September 12, is seeking to protect borrowers and savers in the event of another financial crisis.

© 2011 AFP

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