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from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Bankers say “derisking” underway amid sanctions crackdown; that’s the point, U.S. regulator says

A process of "derisking" is underway by financial firms exiting sectors that represent compliance landmines, bankers said on Tuesday, but a top U.S. sanctions enforcer said that is sometimes just the right move.

"It is not at all uncommon for me to hear that a compliance overhaul was done and certain customers, certain lines of activity were deemed too risky to persist. That may be exactly the right response to a situation where the risk outweighs the benefit," said Adam Szubin, director of the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the lead agency for the enforcement of U.S. financial sanctions.

Szubin addressed the annual SIBOS conference by Swift, the financial industry's communications cooperative. At the conference, bankers cited lines of business they were reconsidering amid an enforcement crackdown and rising penalties for sanctions violations. The $9 billion fine and guilty plea BNP Paribas agreed to in June, under a deal with U.S. authorities over charges related to the banks dealings with blacklisted countries including Sudan and Iran, was high on the bankers' minds, as were complex new U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia over its intervention in Ukraine.

"Our sense of how well we have to manage that risk is evolving with the regulatory landscape. And the result is that we are exiting and becoming more conservative about providing services to certain segments," said Bob Werner, head of HSBC Holdings Plc's global financial crimes compliance and anti-money laundering operations. Werner, a former OFAC head, was hired by HSBC after the bank in 2012 paid a $1.9 billion fine to settle U.S. charges over anti-money laundering lapses.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

U.S. regulators ease credit risk rules on guarantees for banks using advanced approach

By Bora Yagiz, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Aug. 15, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Three major U.S. regulatory agencies have eased requirements under the advanced approach risk-based capital rules by removing a key requirement concerning guarantees provided by counterparties eligible for recognition as credit risk mitigants. The final rule , agreed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, modified the definition of “eligible guarantee” for purposes of the advanced approach risk-based capital rules by removing the requirement that an eligible guarantee be provided by an “eligible guarantor” for all exposures other than securitization exposures.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Canadian banking outlook downgraded over ‘bail-in’ move, adding to recent financial stability concerns

By Daniel Seleanu, Compliance Complete

TORONTO, July 17, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) -  In yet another worrying sign for Canada's financial sector, Moody's Investors Service has lowered its outlook for the Canadian banking system from "stable" to "negative" over uncertainty about government willingness to bail out banks during a crisis. It follows a pair of recent warnings issued by the Bank of Canada (BOC) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), both of which highlighted the growing risk of stress posed by runaway consumer debt and property prices.

 

Moody's negative outlook reflected the rating agency's pessimism over Canada's plan to implement a "bail-in" regime that would avoid taxpayer-funded bank bailouts by shifting some of the burden to bondholders. It would allow banks to convert some of their debt into to equity during a crisis.

from Breakingviews:

China wrestles with repression of financial sort

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

China is richer and more stable than when tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square 25 years ago. Then, incomplete political reforms led to chaos, violence and retrenchment. While there’s little risk of that now, a similar dynamic is playing out in the financial system.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Forget HFT; “High Intelligence Trading” is the new frontier for technology, markets, regulation

By Henry Engler, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Apr. 10, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - While fast is good, smart is better, and with untold resources of computing power and memory banks in the clouds, the new frontier in electronic trading combines sophisticated intelligent software with rapid-fire processing, enabling traders to stay one step ahead of the regulators.

“What’s the difference between pure speed and adding intelligence to that speed?” asked Terry Keene, head of iSys, a technology integration firm, at a conference focused on high performance computing. The answer is “big data analytics” that brings decision-making and trading to a “near-time” environment, he added.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Special report: UK regulators face mounting concerns over their handling of multi-million pound fund collapse

By Alex Davidson, Compliance Complete

LONDON, Apr. 4, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Regulators face searching questions about whether they acted effectively in the multi-million pound collapse in 2012 of an unregulated collective investment scheme (UCIS). The then Financial Services Authority's (FSA) decisions concerning the Connaught Income Fund, Series 1, a UK-domiciled fund based in London, will come under fresh scrutiny at a debate in Westminster Hall, between members of parliament and HM Treasury this month, subject to scheduling. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said that the FSA, its predecessor body, acquitted itself well in dealing with the situation. Detractors, including investors, MPs and independent financial advisers (IFAs), have said the regulator failed to act appropriately on warnings about the misappropriation of multiple millions of pounds from the fund.
Some have found fault with the regulator, fund operators and IFAs who sold the Connaught fund, but it remains to be seen who, if anyone, will be held broadly accountable. Critics of the regulator have said it failed to investigate effectively evidence of financial misappropriation and insolvency, at Tiuta Plc (Tiuta), a regulated mortgage lender, to which the fund was lending money. The evidence was provided by whistleblower George Patellis, chief executive of Tiuta, which, like its unregulated subsidiary,Tiuta International (TIL), was a specialist partner to the Connaught fund.

In March 2011, Patellis informed the FSA he had discovered fictitious secured loans in the loan book of the fund and that the books of Tiuta had been arranged to pretend it was solvent when it had a multi-million pound deficit. Notwithstanding his subsequent provision of evidence, seen by Compliance Complete, the FSA did not close down Tiuta or require the regulated fund operator, Blue Gate Capital, to suspend the fund's operations. Tiuta continued to trade. Tamlyn Stone, director of compliance oversight at Blue Gate, declined to comment.

from Breakingviews:

Deadly assault brings new kind of risk to China

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The shocking knife attack that left at least 33 dead in Kunming railway station brings a new kind of risk to China. Investors’ belief in the relative stability of the People’s Republic has allowed it to weather political purges and border disputes without upsetting asset prices or capital flows. But rising ethnic tension could lead to a damaging recalculation at a fragile time.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

“Big data” tools will improve regulatory oversight, FINRA’s di Florio says

By Stuart Gittleman, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Feb. 25 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is developing a suite of "big data" information sources and analytics to improve regulatory oversight of securities firms, according to Carlo di Florio, FINRA's chief risk officer and head of strategy.

Leveraging technology and analytics can make for a "unique moment in regulation [that lets regulators] see things they couldn't have seen or understood as well before," di Florio said at an event this week hosted by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association compliance and legal society.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Big banks fall short on data requirements, but regulators may share in the blame

By Bora Yagiz, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, FEB. 11 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - An international study for a bank regulators' group has found deficiencies in the way banks measured and reported counterparty exposures. But the regulators themselves may share responsibility for the shortcomings, as they have provided little specific guidance for the banks.

The report by the Senior Supervisors Group (SSG) --a forum of senior officials from banking regulatory agencies of several countries-- found that 19 participating large banks fall short in some areas of data aggregation and quality. The report was based on the banks' own self-assessments.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Small banks await regulatory fix on Trust Preferred Securities portion of the Volcker rule for capital decisions

By Bora Yagiz, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Jan. 24 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Banks that have relied over the years on a special type of assets to fulfill their capital requirements may soon have to restructure their investment portfolios to bring it in line with the Volcker rule limiting risky trading by banks. At stake is the treatment of the Trust Preferred Securities (TRuPS), whose inclusion as “investments in entities referred to as covered funds” such as collateralized loan obligations and collateralized debt obligations, would oblige banks to divest them in compliance with the Volcker rule.

The intent behind the complex Volcker rule is clear. It is aimed at limiting the exposure of banks to certain type of “covered funds” such as hedge funds or private equity funds to 3 percent, and to prevent them from engaging in proprietary trading, namely, trading with their customers’ funds for their own short term gains rather than trade on their clients’ behalf. It is, therefore, a rule to make banks’ investments less risky and more transparent.

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