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Top EU Banking Regulator Moves to Lobbying, Sparking Criticism

Alexander Weber and Silla Brush

(Bloomberg) -- One of Europe’s most senior banking regulators is switching sides to represent the region’s biggest lenders on policy issues, drawing criticism from lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Adam Farkas, currently the executive director of the European Banking Authority, will become the head of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe, the industry group said in a statement. The EBA announced separately that Farkas is stepping down and will refrain from policy and supervisory work until he leaves.

“We carried out an extensive search of the pan-European market and Adam was clearly the outstandingly qualified candidate,” AFME Chairman Michael Cole-Fontayn said in the statement.

Farkas, 51, will start his new role in February 2020. Simon Lewis, AFME’s current chief executive officer, earned 1.68 million pounds ($2.1 million) for 2018, according to the group, which did not disclose his replacement’s pay.

In his new role, Farkas will be barred from directly lobbying his former employer for 24 months after leaving his post, the EBA said. He also can’t advise the association’s members -- which include major banks such as Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- on topics directly related to his prior work for 18 months after leaving the regulator.

Finance Watch, an advocacy group, has asked the EBA to block Farkas’s move, pointing to EU rules requiring officials to “behave with integrity and discretion” after leaving service. Sven Giegold, a lawmaker for the Greens in the European Parliament, has said that the move would cause “massive damage” to the EBA’s reputation.

It’s not the first time that an EU official has sparked anger by joining the financial industry. Jose Barroso, a former European Commission president, had to defend his move to advise Goldman Sachs against criticism from Jean-Claude Juncker, his successor, and Francois Hollande, France’s leader at the time.

The European Commission’s financial regulation unit has also faced criticism from Corporate Europe Observatory, another advocacy group, for frequent departures of senior officials to “companies they once oversaw or lobby firms that represent them.”

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is a member of AFME, according to the group’s website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alexander Weber in Brussels at aweber45@bloomberg.net;Silla Brush in London at sbrush@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net, Marion Dakers, James Hertling

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