Financial Regulatory Forum

Standard Chartered case may not set model for targeting other banks

By Aruna Viswanatha and Brett Wolf

WASHINGTON/ST. LOUIS, Sept. 5 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Benjamin Lawsky’s surprise move against Standard Chartered in an Iran sanctions case may have stunned the banking world, but it is unlikely to expand the scope of a series of similar U.S. cases against European banks that are still in the pipeline.
Lawsky, the New York state bank regulator, stunned the British bank, its shareholders and other U.S. authorities when he moved ahead last month with his own case against Standard Chartered, accused of hiding transactions involving Iran, which is under U.S. trade and economic sanctions. (more…)

Post-Katrina moves helped banks weather the storm after Isaac, says state banking official

By Ted Knutson

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Post-Hurricane Katrina disaster preparations helped banks weather the storm after last week’s Hurricane Isaac, Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions (Bank) Division Chief Examiner Sid Seymour told Thomson Reuters Monday.

“After Katrina in 2005, some bank locations were closed for weeks. But Isaac came in on the 29th, we had banks in the coastal parishes that were closed that day, on the next, bank staffers were doing damage (recovery) the next day and the day after, most locations were reopen,” the head state bank examiner said. (more…)

Weak U.S. legal oversight puts burden on compliance pros to protect their firms, author says

By Stuart Gittleman

NEW YORK, Sept. 4 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - An inadequate government and industry response to the financial crisis will require compliance professionals to do more to protect their firms, customers and colleagues, Jeff Connaughton, who said he saw firsthand how reform withered in Congress, has told Compliance Complete.

“Until law enforcement causes actual deterrence, compliance needs to understand what institutional and retail customers can – and can’t – stomach. And those customers need to get back to performing exacting due diligence. Until we have tough law enforcement again, institutional customers will have a greater impact on Wall Street behavior than federal prosecutors,” said Connaughton, a former investment banker, aide in President Bill Clinton’s administration, lobbyist and longtime political associate of Vice President Joe Biden. (more…)

Sanctions and prosecutions against international banks creates dark market, increase risk

By Kim R. Manchester, Thomson Reuters Accelus contributing author

TORONTO, Sept. 4 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The black market for Iranian oil will carry increasingly sophisticated money laundering risks for international banks engaged in correspondent banking, international trade finance and global payments. Sanctions evasion will remain the top priority for the Iranian government, state-owned enterprises and the bankers that enable firms around the globe who aim to profit from this black market.

The increase in risk is a result of tightening sanctions against Iran and the crackdown by American authorities on international banks accused of providing Iranian entities access to the U.S. financial system, often leading to enormous multi-million dollar settlements. (more…)

U.S. Justice Department eyes compliance lapses in next era of money-laundering cases

By Aruna Viswanatha and Brett Wolf

NEW YORK, Sept. 4 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The U.S. Department of Justice is shifting its sights to a new offensive in combating money laundering: bringing criminal charges against banks and other financial institutions for weak compliance systems that fail to catch illicit money flows.

Even while the department’s money-laundering unit is wrapping up a series of blockbuster cases involving sanctions-busting transactions routed through some of Europe’s biggest banks, it has set its sights on the next front. (more…)

INTERVIEW: Board members are accountable for compliance, SEC’s di Florio says

By Emmanuel Olaoye

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Directors who fail to take an interest in compliance risk the threat of enforcement action from the Securities and Exchange Commission, a top official from the agency said.

In an interview with Thomson Reuters, Carlo di Florio, director of the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, said the agency was focused on developing an examination regime that looked at a company’s culture of compliance at every level of management. Board members who are not engaged in the compliance process risk the chance of their firm being referred to the SEC’s enforcement division for fraud or compliance failures. (more…)

Regulators globally seek to curb supercomputer trading glitches

By Christopher Elias

LONDON, Aug. 31, (Business Law Currents) - A series of stock market glitches has prompted regulators around the world to introduce new regulations to limit the impact of computer malfunctions on trading. Shielding markets from another Knight Capital disaster, the new rules seek to defend market participants from malicious machines and risky robots. (more…)

Standard Chartered’s big shareholders stay quiet on compliance, say focus is on governance

By Martin Coyle

LONDON/HONG KONG, Aug. 31 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Standard Chartered Bank’s major shareholders are declining to openly criticise the firm’s compliance practices but some cited overall governance issues as their primary interest following its settlement over allegations it breached Iran-sanctions laws. One institutional investor said that it had discussed compliance issues with the bank before this month’s $340 million settlement was reached with New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) for breaches of sanctions with Iran. The UK fund manager, which declined to be named, said that it discussed the allegations in general as well as compliance issues.  (more…)

U.S. consumer bureau’s mortgage servicing rules are in the right direction despite shortcomings

By Bora Yagiz

NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s proposed rules earlier this month on mortgage servicing are a step in the right direction in its efforts to uproot the malpractices that were once prevalent in the subprime mortgage market. The proposals suffer from a few shortcomings, however, not the least because the Bureau, with its “one-size-fits-all” approach, seems to have ignored the nuances between the different players within the servicing industry. (more…)

Staging “Macbeth” in Manhattan: enforcement in the aftermath of Libor and Standard Chartered

By Justin O’Brien, Thomson Reuters Accelus contributing author

LONDON/NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Despite the lack of commentary from either the White House or federal executive agencies, the Standard Chartered investigation — and the manner in which it was handled — is certain to reignite the festering feud over how to regulate finance. Absent the physical bloodshed, the power struggle for control of banking regulation and how to change its culture finds remarkable parallels in Macbeth, the classic Shakespearean tale of political infighting. As with Banquo’s Ghost, the spectre of Eliot Spitzer and his battles with federal counterparts over the purpose of regulation looms large.  (more…)

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