Financial Regulatory Forum

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…)

Compliance officers face multiple options for credentials

By Julie DiMauro

NEW YORK, May 17 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The compliance officer role in heavily regulated industries, such as defense contracting, healthcare and financial services, is endowed with great responsibility. The compliance officer is charged with spotting risk and pursuing the policies and procedures that bring such exposures to levels deemed acceptable as contemplated by agency regulations and local and federal laws.

As the compliance position has grown to become more of a top-level role, and more firms have come to recognize it as an important component to its regulatory regime, there has been a surge in the number of training and certification programs dedicated to the exchange of compliance best practices.  (more…)

JPMorgan AGM punctured by thorny hedge issues

By Christopher Elias

LONDON/NEW YORK, May 17 (Business Law Currents) - JPMorgan’s disastrous $2 billion hedge loss has raised some thorny issues on management oversight, corporate governance and the effectiveness of the Volcker Rule, as division at the banking giant’s annual general meeting highlight a growing tension between its shareholders and management.

Little more than a week ago, prior to Tuesday’s annual general meeting (AGM), JPMorgan announced that it had incurred a $2 billion loss as a result of a hedge gone wrong from its London offices with the possibility of $1 billion in additional losses to follow. (more…)

Firms urged to spend more, complain less to meet compliance challenge

By Rachel Wolcott

LONDON/NEW YORK, May 16 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Talk to any compliance officer these days and the chances are they will tell a story about too many new rules from too many jurisdictions that are too complicated and labour-intensive and expensive to implement. Each time another missive hits their desks from the Financial Services Authority (FSA), or one of the many other global, European Union or U.S. regulators, bankers, their compliance officers or risk managers, wonder quite how they will be able to manage the implementation process and also, perhaps more importantly how much it will all cost.

At the Cass-Capco Institute Paper Series on Risk conference held last month in London, a senior compliance official from a global systemically important financial (G-SIFI) institution said: “We are deluged with regulations that we don’t know will work, then we have to implement them. People are getting lost in a mire of complexity.”  (more…)

JPMorgan, warned earlier over risk governance, highlights oversight challenges

By Emmanuel Olaoye, Julie DiMauro and Randall Mikkelsen

NEW YORK, May 15 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Corporate executives and boards face big challenges monitoring risk at complex banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co, which was warned by an investor group last year that its board had “serious deficiencies” and was not up to the task.

Challenges to connecting the dots to form a clear risk picture at sprawling global institution with multiple business units like JPMorgan include difficulties tracking data, differing regulatory jurisdictions, and crucially, inadequate corporate governance. (more…)

JPMorgan repeats basic mistakes managing traders, say officials

By Rachel Wolcott

LONDON/NEW YORK, May 15 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office, which last week was responsible for more than $2 billion in mark-to-market losses, appears to have made some classic mistakes in the risk management of trading desks and the monitoring of traders. Although the CIO losses have not been blamed on a rogue trader, they do have much in common with the incidents at UBS and Société Générale, where single traders lost billions seemingly overnight.  (more…)

JPMorgan may tip Wall Street’s hand on ploys to beat Volcker

By Rachel Wolcott

NEW YORK, May 14 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - JPMorgan Chase & Co’s revelation that it had trading losses of at least $2 billion on a failed hedging strategy may have tipped the hand to one way Wall Street executives plan to get around the Volcker Rule.

The incident shows how firms could use the pending rule’s hedging exemption to do proprietary trades and still technically be compliant with Volcker. It could allow firms to keep some proprietary trading desks, but portray them to regulators as something else, such as portfolio hedging. (more…)

Private equity: bank regulators tighten the collar on leveraged loans

By Alex Lee

NEW YORK, May 11 (Business Law Currents) – With the leveraged finance market coming back to life, bank regulators want financial institutions to seriously tighten oversight and maintenance of their leveraged portfolios. Leveraged loans are heavily utilized by private equity shops for their transactional activities but there is an ever-increasing concern that while loan volume has gone up, underwriting practices have deteriorated to unacceptable standards.

On March 26, 2012, bank regulators released proposed guidance on leveraged lending for public comment. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have proposed revising previous guidance issued in 2001 on leveraged finance as greater scrutiny is being placed on financial institution based risk factors. Proposals in this sector could potentially impact private equity shops by affecting one of their primary sources of funding for acquisition deals. (more…)

Corporate governance watch: vote failures signal investor dissatisfaction with executive pay

By Alex Lee

NEW YORK, May 10 (Business Law Currents) – Stockholders are making their discontent heard through say-on-pay votes that have not been flattering to executives. So far this year, multiple companies have outright failed these votes and even more have not been able to reach the 70 percent approval threshold. In light of Institutional Shareholder Services’ (ISS) 2012 Corporate Governance Policy Updates, evaluations of company pay policies are in line for even greater scrutiny.

According to ISS, a majority vote that does not reach at least a 70 percent approval rate is considered as a failure. A simple majority alone is no longer deemed a mandate of a board’s policies, and any approval level below 70 percent is now perceived as a serious exhibition of shareholder dissatisfaction. (more…)

Foreign bribery fines and settlements: who should get the money?

By Luke Balleny

NEW YORK, May 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – ‘Share and share alike,’ some parents love to tell their offspring. But when it comes to fines or settlements from foreign bribery cases, the issue of sharing is a contentious one.

The U.S. government receives all proceeds from fines or settlements that companies pay it in connection with violations, or alleged violations, of U.S. anti-bribery laws. (more…)

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