June 30, 2020 / 9:11 AM / 9 days ago

BOJ plans virtual inspections of banks as pandemic lingers

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask walks past the headquarters of Bank of Japan amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan, May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - The Bank of Japan said on Tuesday it plans to replace its on-site inspections of financial institutions with interviews via teleconference for the first time this year as part of efforts to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The BOJ inspects around 100 financial institutions each year, with staff spending two to four weeks at the branches of the companies to scrutinise their books and risk profiles.

The central bank had temporarily suspended the inspections in April after the government requested citizens to stay home and businesses to shut down to contain the pandemic.

While the lockdown measures were lifted in late May, the BOJ will not resume on-site visits but instead carry out interviews via teleconference and phone, the central bank said.

The move will help ease the burden on financial institutions, which are faced with a huge number of loan requests from cash-strapped firms, it said.

“We will focus on examining how COVID-19 affects their business, such as in terms of providing financing support to corporates and households and management of credit and market risk,” the BOJ said in a statement.

Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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