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The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is applying additional capital requirements to three major banks to reflect higher operational risk identified in their risk governance self-assessments.

APRA has written to ANZ, National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac advising of an increase in their minimum capital requirements of $500 million each. The capital add-ons will apply until the banks have completed their planned remediation to strengthen risk management, and closed gaps identified in their self-assessments.

The increase in capital requirements follows APRA’s decision in May last year to apply a $1 billion dollar capital add-on to Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) in response to the findings of the APRA-initiated Prudential Inquiry into CBA.

Following the CBA Inquiry’s Final Report, APRA wrote to the boards of 36 of the country’s largest banks, insurers and superannuation licensees asking them to gauge whether the weaknesses uncovered by the Inquiry also existed in their own companies. Although the self-assessments raised no concerns about financial soundness, they confirmed that many of the issues identified in the Inquiry were not unique to CBA. This included the need to strengthen non-financial risk management, ensure accountabilities are clear, cascaded and enforced, address long-standing weaknesses and enhance risk culture.

APRA Chair Wayne Byres said: “Australia’s major banks are well-capitalised and financially sound, but improvements in the management of non-financial risks are needed. This will require a real focus on the root causes of the issues that have been identified, including complexity, unclear accountabilities, weak incentives and cultures that have been too accepting of long-standing gaps.

“The major banks play a vital role in the stability of the entire financial system, and APRA expects them to hold themselves to the highest standards of risk governance. Their self-assessments reveal that they have fallen short in a number of areas, and APRA is therefore raising their regulatory capital requirements until weaknesses have been fully remediated,” Mr Byres said.

APRA supervisors continue to provide tailored feedback to other banks, insurers and superannuation licensees that provided self-assessments to APRA. Where weaknesses have been identified, the level of supervisory scrutiny is being increased as remediation actions are implemented. Where material weaknesses exist, APRA is also considering the need for the application of an additional operational risk capital requirement.

APRA’s Information Paper on the industry self-assessments of governance, culture and accountability is available on the APRA website