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January 28, 2014

Santander appoints Sheila Bair as independent director

“Banco Santander has appointed Sheila Bair, a former regulator and an outspoken critic of big banks, as an independent director in a move that adds an international presence to the Spanish lender’s board but also raises eyebrows.

“Ms Bair, who was head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2006 to 2011, has criticised the revolving door of government officials working for related companies in the private sector in her 2012 book, “Bull By The Horns”.

“She has said there should be a “lifetime ban” on regulators working for banks they have regulated, and while industry experience can be helpful, officials should gain that insight through government-paid industry “tours of duty”.

“In the US, Santander is considered a national bank that is regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Still Ms Bair worked in those circles when she was at the FDIC. She is presently a senior adviser at the Pew Charitable Trusts and chair of the non-profit Systematic Risk Council.”

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“Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, a non-profit group that promotes the public interest in the financial markets, said: “I am not worried about Sheila Bair being a lapdog for the CEO, who better be ready for a watchdog in the board room.

“That is not only what is needed, but will ultimately be good for Santander’s CEO and shareholders as well as the financial system as a whole,” Mr Kelleher said.”

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Read full Financial Times article here

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