Financial Regulatory Forum

With new U.S. swaps definitions, the horse is finally put before the cart

By Bora Yagiz

NEW YORK, July 24 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The definition of swaps finalized by the U.S. futures regulator is the linchpin in an overhaul that will change the swaps market landscape markedly and offer the promise of lower risk.

In an effort to bring the over-the-counter (OTC) swaps into the regulatory fold for the first time since they appeared in 1981, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a set of final rules this month defining a “swap” under the Dodd-Frank Act, section 721. These rules complement the agency’s other final rule on end-user exemptions as well as those adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission on “security-based swaps” and “security-based swaps agreements.” They also delineate the jurisdiction for mixed swaps between the agencies. (more…)

Compliance lessons: U.S. Senate report on HSBC AML failings

By Susannah Hammond

LONDON/NEW YORK, July 20 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The United States Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations has published a report into U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing using HSBC Group plc as a case history. The report does not detail enforcement action taken, though there are several likely fines being considered by a number of U.S. authorities regarding HSBC’s anti-money laundering (AML) failings; it is however a valuable insight into the operations and associated compliance, risk and AML issues arising in a global financial services firm.  (more…)

Low interest rates can pose safety-and-soundness issues, state bank regulator says

By Ted Knutson

WASHINGTON, July 19 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The low interest rate environment being pushed by the Federal Reserve can pose safety and soundness issues for some banks, Michael Stevens, senior executive vice president of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, told Thomson Reuters Accelus Wednesday.

“Low interest rates are a supervisory concern because they can have a corrosive effect on net interest margins, which impacts profitability, which impacts capital formation, which affects the ability to lend more and to grow,” said Stevens. (more…)

U.S. bank regulator promises better enforcement following scathing congressional report into HSBC AML failures

By Brett Wolf

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - After widespread anti-money laundering (AML) failures at HSBC that continued for years due to lax regulatory oversight, a U.S. bank regulator has vowed to take a broader view of institutions’ compliance programs during examinations.

“The agency was much too slow in responding and addressing what are significant weaknesses or violations at this institution. Going forward, I would hope that we would be much more nimble and take into account the entire picture,” Thomas Curry, who took over as Comptroller of the Currency less than four months ago, said on Tuesday during a hearing by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. (more…)

Futures customer protections improved in U.S. and overseas after frauds

By Nick Paraskeva

NEW YORK, July 17 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The CFTC approved tough customer protection rules for futures firms’ days after the Peregrine default led to over $200 million in missing client funds. Losses arising from a fraud by the owner of the futures broker come soon after a $1.6 billion hole in client funds from the collapse of MF Global. The new rules require daily calculations of client money to be reported, and for senior management to certify cash movements.

The CFTC charged Peregrine Financial Group, and its owner Russell Wasendorf, Sr, of misappropriating customer funds. A recent audit of Peregrine by the National Futures Association (NFA), the self-regulator for independent futures firms, found the firm falsely represented it held $220 million customer funds at a bank account, which only had $5.1million. The firm filed for liquidation Friday, and its owner was arrested. (more…)

Learn the compliance lessons from an epic fail in correspondent banking and trade finance

By Kim R. Manchester, Thomson Reuters Accelus contributing author

NEW YORK, July 16 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - A Settlement Agreement was released in June 2012 by the United States Department of the Treasury regarding the voluntary self-disclosure to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) by ING Bank, N.V. (ING Bank), a financial institution registered and organized in the Netherlands. The violations of numerous sanctions programs imposed by the United States against Cuba, Burma, the Sudan, Libya and Iran were determined by the Americans as “egregious.” (more…)

U.S. bank regulators warn on due diligence in using cloud computing services

By Emmanuel Olaoye

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, July 13 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Bank regulators this week raised their warnings to financial institutions on the dangers of using vendors that provide so-called “cloud computing” services.

Cloud computing lets businesses outsource data storage and transactions to vendors that host remote datacenters that can only be accessed over the internet. The model allows the companies to change their information technology without buying and setting up new systems. (more…)

U.S. brokerage regulator warns of ‘unpleasant surprises’ on ETNs

By Stuart Gittleman

NEW YORK, July 11 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the U.S. brokerage regulator, warned investors Tuesday in an alert of the features and risks of exchange-traded notes.

The alert, Exchange-traded notes: avoid unpleasant surprises, listed the risks of certain ETNs and urged investors to carefully investigate before investing in them.  (more…)

Barclays scandal highlights value of monitoring and testing – governance experts

By Emmanuel Olaoye

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, July 10 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - A major theme in the Barclays scandal over rate-rigging is the firm’s failure to conduct adequate monitoring and testing of its compliance program, governance experts have told Thomson Reuters Accelus.

Barclays has agreed to pay $453 million to settle charges by U.S. and UK authorities that its employees manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, a key benchmark for global financial transactions, including payments on mortgages, credit cards and other financial contracts.  (more…)

First wave of U.S. living wills has limitations, but offers useful start

By Bora Yagiz

NEW YORK, July 9 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The “living will” resolution plans submitted to U.S. regulators by nine big banks last week suffer from a number of limitations, including narrow scenarios of financial distress and an assumption that regulators will be coordinated in their approach. But there will be plenty of opportunity to perfect the blueprints.

Five major U.S. banking organizations and four foreign-based bank holding companies with $250 billion or more in total nonbank assets submitted on July 2 their resolution plans, or “living wills,” to the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as required by section 165(d) of the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA). This constituted the first of the three waves of submissions of a staggered schedule arranged according to the banks’ sizes and due to be completed by end-2013. These plans to complement the recovery plans that are designed to maintain firms under extreme stress as going concerns, will serve as the official point of entry for bankruptcy. (more…)

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