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How the European Banking Authority (EBA) handled the move of its former executive director to become CEO of a financial industry lobby group

The complaint concerned the decision of the European Banking Authority (EBA) to allow its executive director to take up a position as CEO of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), an association representing banks and other financial institutions.

The Ombudsman found that the EBA should have forbidden the job move, and that the measures it put in place to prevent conflicts of interest are not sufficient to address the risks involved. She also found that, once the EBA had been notified of the planned move, it should have immediately withdrawn the executive director’s access to confidential information.

To address these findings of maladministration, the Ombudsman recommended that the EBA should (i) where necessary in future, forbid senior staff members from taking up certain positions after their term of office; (ii) set out criteria for when it will forbid such moves, so as to give clarity to staff members; and (iii) put in place internal procedures so that, once it is known that a staff member is moving to another job, their access to confidential information is withdrawn with immediate effect.

The EBA responded positively to the recommendations, indicating that, in the future, it intends to forbid senior staff from taking up certain positions when they leave the EBA. The EBA also adopted a procedure for assessing post-employment obligations on staff, and a policy whereby it will suspend access to confidential information for staff known to be moving to the private sector. The Ombudsman welcomed the steps taken by the EBA and closed the case.