Financial Regulatory Forum

Dewey & LeBoeuf collapse highlights importance to clients of safeguarding records

By Martin Coyle and Julie DiMauro

NEW YORK/LONDON, June 1 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The collapse of U.S. law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf underscores the importance to financial companies of gaining access to their legal records, ensuring continuity of advice, and safeguarding privileged information, according to regulatory lawyers and experts. Dewey, once one of the largest U.S. law firms with deep ties to Wall Street, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this week after failing to find a willing merger partner, and its UK unit was placed under administration. The former legal giant was saddled with $100 million debts, a criminal investigation and the departure of senior staff. It is likely to be liquidated. The failure is the biggest in the history of U.S. law firms. (more…)

Energy companies moving forward with CFTC compliance despite uncertainties

By Thomas A. Utzinger (U.S.)

NEW YORK, May 31 (Business Law Currents) – Electric utilities and natural gas companies are facing new regulatory uncertainties involving the jurisdictional reaches of two agencies overseeing futures and derivatives trading as well as wholesale energy transactions: the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Recent rulemaking efforts and litigation have raised questions as to the overlap and division of powers of these two entities over certain financial transactions and enforcement actions of interest to the energy industry. (more…)

Offshore U.S. oversight of derivatives may bolster defenses against JPMorgan-type losses

By Nick Paraskeva

NEW YORK, May 29 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – U.S. regulators are looking to use new their oversight authority over foreign derivatives trades to reduce the chances of new shocks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co’s trading loss of at least $2 billion.

Pointing out that JPMorgan’s money-losing trades on a credit default swap index were conducted in a London unit, similar to recent failures at AIG and Lehman Brothers, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said implementation of Dodd-Frank regulatory reform rules would improve supervision of such activity in the future by expanding cross-border oversight. (more…)

Corporate investigations are getting riskier and more difficult, experts say

By Stuart Gittleman

NEW YORK, May 29 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - U.S. corporate officers and directors are increasingly concerned over the business and legal challenges their entities face from potential securities enforcement and criminal probes, lawyers and corporate officers are saying.

A program last week analyzed how directors, executives and corporate counsel can appropriately manage the business and legal risks of an enforcement proceeding arising from earnings misstatements or employee misconduct at both low and high levels.  (more…)

Road shows, analysts and jumping the gun: the Facebook IPO

By Helen Parry, additional reporting by Julie Dimauro

LONDON/NEW YORK, May 25 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Facebook’s chaotic initial public offering has sparked much speculation and legal action based on the idea that securities laws and regulations over disclosure may have been breached, which would leave Facebook and others involved in the offering process liable to potential regulatory enforcement or civil liability for losses caused to investors.

An analyst at lead underwriter Morgan Stanley cut his revenue forecasts for Facebook in the days before the offering, information that may not have reached many investors before the stock was listed, Reuters has reported. (more…)

IA brief: State regulator’s deficiency letter offers clues for social-media policies

By Jason Wallace

NEW YORK, May 25 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – A state regulator’s letter to an investment advisory firm outlining shortcomings in the firm’s use of social media also gives an early clue to how regulators will scrutinize the financial industry’s growing use of services like Facebook and LinkedIn.

The “exam deficiency” letter was provided by a source familiar with the case to Thomson Reuters on the grounds that neither the source nor the target of the letter be identified. Such letters, which specify areas in which a firm’s regulatory compliance falls short, are issued by a regulator after an examination of a firm. (more…)

JPMorgan case puts Volcker Rule and SIFIs back in the spotlight

By Patricia Lee

NEW YORK, May 23 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The massive losses which resulted from JPMorgan Chase hedging its positions against derivatives has once again cast the spotlight on the Volcker Rule and whether systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs) are too big to fail, industry observers said. Questions have also been raised about the firm’s hedging strategy, and what constitutes hedging in the first place.

Industry officials in Asia suggested that JPMorgan’s $2 billion hedging losses might embolden regulators to strengthen the Volcker Rule, on the premise that it would be of benefit to SIFIs. The rule, named after former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, forms part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and has proposed the separation of proprietary trading from commercial banking activity. Most notably, it has argued against investing in derivatives or using derivatives as a hedge on investments. The rule has, however, faced strong opposition from many of the large global financial institutions. (more…)

Investor group seeks JPMorgan governance changes

By Emmanuel Olaoye

NEW YORK, May 18 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – A labor-backed investor group critical of JPMorgan Chase & Co’s corporate governance said the bank has failed to address concerns over its risk oversight and it will try to rally other shareholders for changes after a $2 billion trading loss.

CtW Investment Group, which advises labor pension funds holding what it said are 6 million shares in JPMorgan, has advocated for risk governance changes there for more than a year. The risk policy committee of the bank’s board lacks the expertise to understand risks the bank is taking, such as the complex “London Whale” transactions that led to last week’s loss disclosure, a CtW official said. (more…)

Client funds, net capital among hot topics for SEC 2012 exam program

By Nick Paraskeva, Thomson Reuters Accelus contributing author

NEW YORK, May 18 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) –  The SEC has new priorities in its 2012 exam program, including verifying firms’ holding of client funds and their net capital calculations.

The changes follow the collapse of MF Global, which revealed that client funds were missing despite regulations requiring that they be segregated. The revisions also reflect top findings found during the 2011 exam program, and follow major reforms to the SEC’s exam office. (more…)

HSBC victory in Shah claim a relief to bank money-laundering monitors

By Martin Coyle

LONDON/NEW YORK, May 17 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Counter-money laundering officials have welcomed a London High Court decision that saw wealthy Zimbabwean businessman Jayesh Shah fail in his $300 million claim against HSBC Private Bank. Yesterday’s judgment is a relief to financial businesses  who feared the impact of a Shah victory on overhauling their processes for suspicious activity reporting.

The case focused on HSBC’s decision to block four transactions totalling more than $38 million between September 2006 and February 2007. The bank suspected Shah of money laundering and sought consent from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the UK’s financial intelligence unit, to proceed with the transfers. Shah claimed that the delay in carrying out his requests in part led to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe freezing his investments in Zimbabwe and caused him significant losses. SOCA later gave consent to the transactions as legitimate. Shah had ‘parked’ the majority of the money in his HSBC account following an attempted fraud on his Credit Agricole account in July 2006. (more…)

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