Canada’s financial watchdog is a joke

We’re Canadian so we’re a gentler, kinder bunch. It may make for a more pleasant place to bring up children or find a new home if you’re a refugee escaping war. But it’s none too effective when you’re a regulator tasked with protecting consumers.If you need proof of this, take a look at how regulators have reacted in the U.S. and Canada to shady practices by big banks in “upselling” customers products they don’t need, or raising credit limits without their express permission. This unsavoury practice is made worse still by pressuring front-line bank employees to do the dirty work through unrealistic sales quotas that force them to put their ethics aside and put corporate profits first.Last September, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that Wells Fargo, one of America’s biggest banks, had been slapped with fines totalling US$185-million after an investigation by the agency found that bank staff had opened more than two million fake chequing, credit card and other accounts for unknowing customers as part of a company-wide effort to meet sales targets.In announcing the fine, the head of the U.S. agency, Richard Cordray blasted the bank for “reckless, unsafe and unsound practices.” And he added this warning: “Today’s action should serve notice to the entire industry that financial incentive programs, if not monitored carefully, carry serious risks that can have serious legal consequences.”

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