Financial Regulatory Forum

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…)

Standard Chartered case highlights competing agendas of compliance, legal departments in firms

By Julie DiMauro

NEW YORK, Aug. 13 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The sanctions evasion case against Standard Chartered PLC highlights a governance disconnect at many financial services firms between the legal and compliance departments and their perceived obligations, with the former being focused on the letter of the law and the latter on its spirit.

Standard Chartered’s general counsel sent emails to the bank’s compliance officer that “embraced a framework for regulatory evasion,” according to the case filed against the bank last Monday by New York’s top financial regulator.

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Knight Capital crisis brings new push for rules on trading, technology, structure

By Nick Paraskeva

NEW YORK, Aug. 6 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The near-collapse of equity market maker Knight Capital after sending erroneous trades to the New York Stock Exchange last week is the latest in a string of errors causing heavy losses and disrupting markets. While smaller in dollar terms than losses from JPMorgan’s ‘London whale’ or UBS’ rogue trader, it is causing regulators to review firms’ compliance and controls over operational risks, and rules for restructuring of equity markets.

“The apparent trading error by Knight Capital Group reflects the type of event that can raise concerns for investors about our nation’s equity markets,” SEC chairman Mary Schapiro said on Friday. “I have asked SEC staff to accelerate ongoing efforts to propose a rule to require exchanges and other market centers to have specific programs in place to ensure the capacity and integrity of their systems”. (more…)

Knight Capital’s filings reveal scant oversight focus on tech risks for board

By Emmanuel Olaoye

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Knight Capital Group’s public filings show that the company viewed technology systems among significant risks faced by the firm, but the duties outlined for its seven board members do not specify oversight of technology as a factor that could derail it, a threat the company now faces.

A $440 million trading foul-up blamed on software, which comes after problems with Facebook’s initial public offering and the Flash Crash of 2010, has put a renewed focus on the level of risk posed by technology.

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INTERVIEW: Whistleblowing is a duty if internal calls unheeded, U.S. bailout overseer tells compliance officers

By Stuart Gittleman

NEW YORK, July 31 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Compliance officers have a duty to become whistleblowers if their concerns are not heeded internally, Neil Barofsky, the watchdog over the U.S. financial crisis bailout program, told Compliance Complete in an interview.

Exposing wrongdoing is the only way to eradicate a “cancer” of fraud that can endanger companies and the larger economy, said Barfosky, who also in the interview warned on dangers of a revolving door between financial regulators and Wall Street.

Barofsky was appointed Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the aftermath of the September 2008 financial crash by President George W. Bush and served from mid-December through March 2011, when he left to teach at New York University School of Law.

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