The Tanzania Bankers Association recently published the Tanzania Bankers Association Code of Conduct which has been effective since September 2019. In this article, we review the significant changes brought by the Code of Conduct and outline what this means for the members of the Tanzania Bankers Association, including the new sanctioning power provided to them.
The key issue, which will be addressed later in more detail, is that the Tanzania Bankers Association Code of Conduct (the Code) provides sanctioning power to the Tanzania Bankers Association (the TBA). Ordinarily such sanctioning power is vested only in the key regulator, namely the Bank of Tanzania (the BoT), however the significant change here is the empowerment of TBA in terms of sanctioning power.
Pursuant to the Preamble of the Code, the Code 'is adopted and implemented with the overall objective of ensuring strict adherence to best banking practices and strong commitment to highest ethical and professional standards in the banking industry in Tanzania'. The Code is applicable to all TBA members (Members), their non-executive directors, executive directors, managers at all levels and howsoever designated, officers and employees including full-time, part time, temporary, casual employees and out-sourced service providers.
The TBA is an association of banks and financial institutions formed in 1995 with the following strategic objectives:
- bringing together Members in order to foster continued collaboration and cooperation in handling of matters of common interest
- developing, maintaining and elevating professional standards for the industry and standards of provision of services, while allowing fair competition and putting customers at the centre of banking services and products
- promoting growth of the sector/industry and entire economy, thus positioning TBA and its Members as main/major contributor and facilitator of economic growth in the county
- ensuring sustainability of the banking sector and TBA, as an institution
To accomplish the above, the TBA works very closely with other stakeholders including the Government, regulatory agencies such as the BoT, the media and the general public.
What the Code provides
The TBA's Governing Council is mandated to enforce the Code which is binding on Members and employees who have subscribed to it (Employees). An Employee has been defined in the Code as an individual employed / appointed / engaged / recruited by a Member including non-executive directors.
Members are required to acknowledge the provisions of the Code and undertake to have in place a mechanism to ensure that its Employees comply with the Code by signing the Attestation Form to the Code of Conduct for Members prescribed in the Code.
Obligations to be fulfilled by Members
The Code puts an obligation on Members to, among other things:
- introduce internal regulations providing measures and sanctions for the prevention of Employees from defrauding and taking advantage of customers; and, or involving themselves in fraudulent and corrupt practices
- inform customers in an open, easily understandable and clear manner regarding underlying rights and responsibilities, benefits and risks attached to products and services offered
- adopt measures to fight against corruption, money laundering and financing of terrorism
- take appropriate measures to prevent the use of insider information for trading purposes as well as for personal use
- act with honesty, accountability and transparency; show utmost care to ensure correct, complete and timely communication of information that public authorities may request in accordance with relevant laws
- not divulge any information relating to its current and former customers or their affairs except in circumstances in which, in accordance with the law or practices and usages customary among bankers, it is necessary or appropriate for a Member to divulge such information
- conduct due diligence in order to ensure that potential Employees have desirable background, requisite qualifications, knowledge and skills required for the job
- abstain from practices that take advantage of the joint efforts or initiatives of the Members and the TBA at the expense of other Members and the TBA
- abstain from preparing multiple financial statements in order to mislead regulatory authorities and other stakeholders
- put in place a whistle blowing framework and mechanism to protect the whistle blower
Obligations to be fulfilled by Employees
Members have an obligation to ensure that Employees, among other things:
- act ethically, honestly, professionally and with integrity at all times
- not disclose confidential information of their employer and customers relating to their affairs to anyone other than persons and authorities explicitly authorised under the law, upon obtaining appropriate internal authorisation
- offer unbiased and fair treatment to customers receiving same services
- inform their customers about the benefits and risks of the products and services offered
- report fraudulent, unethical and suspicious activities
- comply with applicable laws and regulations while executing their duties
- abstain from soliciting for themselves or third party anything of value from anyone in return for any business, service or confidential information of the employer
- abstain from accepting gifts, services or rewards which could affect independent judgement
- abstain from irrational behaviour and attitudes that are likely to harm the reputation of their employer
- not to behave contrary to the principles of justice, integrity, honesty, reliability and social responsibility
The Governing Council may sanction a violating Member by issuing a warning, censure, suspension or by reporting the violation to the regulator.
It is unclear whether Members will have a right to be heard before they are sanctioned or whether they will be able to seek recourse when aggrieved by said sanction.
Employees will be sanctioned by Members in accordance with Members' internal disciplinary procedures and underlying employment and labour laws.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.