Deutsche Bank warns staff not to delete WhatsApps amid scrutiny


Deutsche Bank first tried to rein in WhatsApp use five years ago when it disabled the app along with text messages on company phones but it introduced software enabling WhatsApp in some circumstances three years later. It’s now working on yet another solution. — Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

Deutsche Bank AG has warned its employees not to delete WhatsApp messages from their phones as part of moves by the German lender to clamp down on private communication channels.

The Frankfurt-based bank earlier this year sent a memo to staff warning them that any business-related messages going through private channels mustn’t be deleted as the act could be considered a crime under US law, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It also reminded them that using messages sent from private phones for business is a violation of company policy, the people said asking not to be identified discussing the private matter.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

The German lender is stepping up scrutiny of employee communications amid a US crackdown. Chief executive officer Christian Sewing said in late January – shortly before the lender sent out the memo – that it’s looking into staff usage of private email accounts for business purposes. The bank is also working on a solution that will enable it to better store WhatsApp messages sent from company phones, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.

The memo was sent by the lender’s anti-money laundering unit as part of their regular policy reminders to staff, one of the people said.

US authorities in December imposed US$200mil (RM837.30mil) in fines on JPMorgan Chase & Co for staff’s use of WhatsApp and other private email accounts. Officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission said at the time that its probe of how lenders store messages is ongoing and may expand to include other firms.

Deutsche Bank has long been grappling to find a balance between modern messaging apps on the one side and banking rules that require lenders to store staff communications for regulatory scrutiny on the other. The lender first tried to rein in WhatsApp use five years ago when it disabled the app along with text messages on company phones but it introduced software enabling WhatsApp in some circumstances three years later. It’s now working on yet another solution. – Bloomberg

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