Financial Regulatory Forum

AML again a top priority for broker-dealer exams, FINRA says

By Stuart Gittleman, Compliance Complete

(Additional reporting by Suzanne Barlyn of Reuters)

NEW YORK, Jan. 17 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Anti-money laundering compliance will again be a focus of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority examinations this year, particularly at broker-dealers with higher-risk business models due to their clients, products and service mix, or locations.

HSBC’s $1.9 billion fine last month highlighted, among other things, the potential AML risks associated with foreign affiliates and the business they transact through their U.S. financial institution affiliates, FINRA said in its 2013 annual regulatory and examination priorities letter(more…)

INTERVIEW: Volcker Rule, derivatives in U.S. business lobby’s sights for new year

By Emmanuel Olaoye, Compliance Complete

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been a leader in contesting U.S. regulators’ implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act. Lawsuits challenging the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission over the justification for the rules have stopped some rules in their tracks and forced the regulators to hire more economic analysts.

With a new Congress due to start on January 3, Compliance Complete sat down with three senior officials at the Chamber to discuss their priority issues for 2013. These include the Volcker rule banning risky trading by banks, exemptions for non-financial users of derivatives, the role of the Financial Stability Oversight Council in money-market fund reform. (more…)

U.S. using subpoenas under 1989 act as new tool to probe financial firms

By Andrew W. Schilling, Compliance Complete contributing author

The U.S. Department of Justice has increased its use of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act(FIRREA) to prosecute wrong-doing by financial firms. Accordingly, more institutions may find themselves having to deal with a subpoena under the act, including those that are directly targeted under the act. In-house counsel would be well advised to familiarize themselves with the statute and to respond to such subpoenas cautiously.

Responding to subpoenas has become routine business for in-house counsel at financial institutions, whose records are often necessary to “follow the money” in fraud prosecutions and civil lawsuits. (more…)

INTERVIEW: Volcker Rule, derivatives in U.S. business lobby’s sights for new year

By Emmanuel Olaoye, Compliance Complete

WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been a leader in contesting U.S. regulators’ implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act. Lawsuits challenging the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission over the justification for the rules have stopped some rules in their tracks and forced the regulators to hire more economic analysts.

With a new Congress due to start on January 3, Compliance Complete sat down with three senior officials at the Chamber to discuss their priority issues for 2013. These include the Volcker rule banning risky trading by banks, exemptions for non-financial users of derivatives, the role of the Financial Stability Oversight Council in money-market fund reform. (more…)

UBS felony plea in Libor deal ushers in tougher enforcement era

By Nick Paraskeva, Compliance Complete contributor

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The UBS felony fraud plea for manipulating reporting of the Libor interbank lending rate marks a regulatory turning point towards tougher enforcement. After the U.S. election confirmed Dodd-Frank is here to stay, and with most Group of 20 reforms mapped out, rulemaking will proceed at a slower pace. The shift will impact the financial-industry, both in the U.S. and globally, which will face a greater supervisory willingness to impose high penalties, and a focus on ethical compliance.

“Today’s announcement – and $1.5 billion global resolution – underscores the Justice Department’s firm commitment to investigating and prosecuting such conduct, and to holding perpetrators of these crimes accountable for their actions,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in announcing the deal this week. His involvement in the enforcement was notable, as previous announcements have been made by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. (more…)

Dos and don’ts on handling a regulatory investigation

By Stuart Gittleman, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - A “highly polarized (and) politicized environment” had made the job of defending against a regulatory investigation particularly challenging, Lawrence Zweifach, a Gibson Dunn law partner, told attendees at a New York City Bar Association program last week. But there are steps a firm can to take to face the challenges.

The high-pressured atmosphere is affecting judges, regulators and legislators, and leading to cases “that will not stand up in the long run” to be brought, said Andrew Levander, a Dechert law partner. (more…)

Shorter securities settlements cycles to be introduced in Europe

By Marianne Brown, Thomson Reuters Accelus contributor

LONDON, Dec. 19 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Earlier this year, the European Commission published its proposals for the regulation of central securities depositories (CSDs), the entities that operate settlement systems. The proposals, known as the Central Securities Depositories Regulation (CSDR), seek to improve settlement efficiency across European markets, and are currently working their way through the European Parliament and Council. (more…)

CFTC adopts final rule requiring firms to save their oral communications

By Emmanuel Olaoye, Compliance Complete

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Dec. 19 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Monday approved a final rule that would require firms registered with the agency to record the oral communications of their brokers for up to a year.

Firms would have to start recording conversations on telephones, voicemail, cell-phones and other media if they trade in a “commodity interest”.  (more…)

Global firms facing challenges of shifting regulations, their top lawyers say

By Stuart Gittleman, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Dec. 13 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The “shifting sands” of regulation, especially since the onset of the financial crisis, are making it more challenging for U.S. public companies to conduct global operations, the top lawyers for three such companies said Friday.

The general counsels – Andrew Bonzani of Interpublic Group, Peter J. Ganz of Ashland Inc. and Elizabeth M. Sacksteder of Citigroup – spoke at the Institute for Corporate Counsel, which was cosponsored by Thomson Reuters and the New York City Bar Association. (more…)

Less drug-money traffic at HSBC may mean more risk for other banks in U.S.

By Brett Wolf, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Dec. 13 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – HSBC was a hotspot for Mexican drug traffickers trying to launder the proceeds of their illicit U.S. sales during the 2000s, as suggested by a Senate report released in July and verified by a deferred prosecution agreement announced by the Justice Department on Tuesday. But now that the British banking giant has been forced to take steps to clean up its anti-money laundering act, Mexican cartels are making moves that may mean more risk for other banks, sources said.

Eager to move cash through the teller windows of HSBC’s Mexico unit in the largest amounts possible — sometimes as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars per day — drug traffickers designed specially shaped boxes, a document released by the Justice Department on Tuesday states. Once the cash was in HSBC accounts, brokers wired it to exporters in New York City and elsewhere in the United States as payment for goods destined for Colombian businesses, according to a”statement of facts” that was filed in federal court in Brooklyn along with a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). (more…)

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