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Euro zone politicians, courts and policy hawks will pose a stiff challenge this year to the ECB's resolve to pin down the bloc's borrowing costs, precisely at a time when higher U.S. Treasury yields are tempting investors away from European markets.


But in China, more modest but still flagrant mismanagement is common in the $54 trillion financial industry.In 2020 alone, the country’s top banking regulator issued almost 3,200 violations against institutions and 4,554 against individuals ranging from senior executives to rank-and-file staff; it levied fines totaling 2.3 billion yuan ($352.2 million).


In the U.S., which has a much longer history of bank regulation, the Federal Reserve took 58 enforcement actions in total.Among the infractions, Chinese investigators found fabricated financial statements, executives’ nannies and chauffeurs installed as controlling shareholders, and favorable rates and sweetheart deals for investors and relatives.The state has also bailed out three poorly-run small lenders and merged dozens more since its first crackdown three years ago.


It also bars entities from using borrowed money to invest in banks and prohibits directors from holding posts at more than one affiliated institution.Unlike in the U.S. and Europe where misconduct and mismanagement often lead to public outcry, regulatory probes, and even high-profile firings, top leaders have been so far insulated in China.


Senior executives are rarely held responsible for branch-level violations, and the financial penalties pale compared with the 1.9 trillion yuan of profit the industry earned last year.“This is work in progress,” said James Stent, author of China’s Banking Transformation and a former banker who’s spent more than a decade on the boards of two Chinese lenders.


The blank-check firm, which has until next month to complete the deal, is seeking shareholder approval to extend the deadline.If they fully vest, a group of shares the sponsor acquired for about $5 million will be worth more than nine times that amount — an 800% gain — even if the company’s stock price remains at $10, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.






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