Financial Regulatory Forum

COLUMN-EU bank stress tests: what’s the point?

Employees of the Deutsche Bank walk in front of the Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Johannes EiseleBy Keith Mullin, Editor at Large, International Financing Review; the views expressed are his own.

LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) – The European bank stress tests that are just kicking off are a pointless and futile exercise that will cause more harm than good.

I’ve written before in this column about the laws of unintended consequences. There could be some pretty serious ones here because the list of banks that fail the supposedly more rigorous tests will lead to an A and B list of saints and sinners.

I doubt the European Commission contemplated the notion of transforming the bank regulatory apparatus into the role of official stockbroker to the masses. But that’s what it is doing in that banks that fail the tests will in effect become a sell sheet initiated and endorsed by European regulators. (more…)

SEC’s boardroom bombshell: directors can be costly

Traders work in the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 16, 2010.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermidNEW YORK, March 4 (Westlaw Business) Being an insider with a fiduciary duty sure is risky, as heavyweight Rajat Gupta is now finding out amidst serious SEC charges. So is having board members, as Goldman Sachs and Procter and Gamble are now worrying. Of great concern to each are the reputational risks and attendant costs that this might impose on them. The potential risks could relate to a broad range of issues, ranging from inside information, to disclosure of SEC investigation and board member protection. Though this likelihood may seem remote, recent experiences from Bank of America to Goldman Sachs itself show them to be painfully possible.

With a plot literally ripped from the headlines and a narrative crackling like a Law & Order script, the Commission has charged Gupta in the spreading Galleon insider trading scandal. The case links Berkshire Hathaway, Goldman Sachs and Procter and Gamble (P&G) to what is shaping up to be one of the biggest non-Madoff financial crime stories of the young century. (more…)

Vigilance over politicians’ accounts urged as cash flows from Middle East

By Martin Coyle

LONDON, March 1 (Complinet) – An international financial crime watchdog has been urged not to relax its stance on monitoring political officials in the light of the desperate scramble to freeze the assets of deposed leaders in the Middle East and North Africa.

Global Witness, an anti-corruption pressure group, said it was “worrying” that the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force, through a consultation exercise launched in October, was seeking to remove the need for banks to scrutinise family members and close associates of “politically exposed persons,” or PEPs. It added that recent events demonstrated that the regime needed to be tightened, not loosened. (more…)

SEC is watching, on the Web, for sanctions evaders

Feb. 25 (Westlaw Business) Big Brother has his eye on more than just filings: He is also surfing the Web to corroborate corporate disclosures. Staff correspondence filed by Scottsdale-based Hypercom Corp. shows that when it comes to rooting out potential sanctions-evaders in Iran and Syria, the Securities and Exchange Commission keeps close tabs. (more…)

Impact analysis: UK outline of new approach to financial regulation

By Susannah Hammond

LONDON, Feb. 24 (Complinet) -The British Treasury’s latest proposal for reshaping financial regulation, published last week, has given more detail to the plans set out in an outline last summer. The fundamental shape of the new bodies now looks to have been finalized, but many fine points on how the new approach will actually function in practical, operational and cultural terms are still under consideration.

Following is a discussion of the major elements of the consultation, “A new approach to financial regulation: building a stronger system,” and how they may affect the UK financial industry:

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SEC market abuse chief takes trader-based approach

By Nick Paraskeva, Complinet contributor

NEW YORK, Feb. 18, (Complinet)  - The Securities and Exchange Commission market abuse unit is using new approaches to better identify insider trading and abusive conduct by market professionals. Unit Chief Daniel M Hawke said the SEC is using a trader-based approach to look for patterns across groups of people, such as related trades across different products and markets by a single trader or connected group of traders. The new approach has given the SEC a greater ability to detect relationships among traders, and bring cases against large trading networks.

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UK plan for early notice of insider-trading probes draws criticism

By Peter Elstob

LONDON, Feb. 18 (Complinet) – UK regulatory lawyers have united in their concerns about giving the new Financial Conduct Authority the power to make insider dealing and other investigations public at their initial stage.

The government proposed giving the controversial “early publicity” power to the FCA — the successor body to the Financial Services Authority that will regulate retail, wholesale, and markets conduct of business — in a consultation document that it published on Thursday. (more…)

NYSE and Deutsche Borse: New York not home, so merger far from home-free

A U.S. flag hangs outside the New York Stock Exchange building, February 15, 2011. Deutsche Boerse will take over NYSE Euronext to create the world's largest exchange operator in a deal that dodges key questions that could yet threaten its completion. REUTERS/Joshua Lott Feb. 18 (Westlaw Business) The much-ballyhooed merger of the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange with that of German exchange Deutsche Borse makes two things clear – if they can make it through the thicket of global regulatory approvals and similarly convince their shareholders to tender into the offer, they’re home free. The just-filed agreement and related corporate governance documents make equally clear that “home” will not really be New York, and the NYSE Euronext will be the New York Stock Exchange no more.  This may make regulatory approval that much more difficult, with U.S. regulators in particular looking at issues from antitrust to financial markets, to national security. (more…)

Protests in Middle East, North Africa spur look at corporate risk disclosures globally -Westlaw Business

A man prays for demonstrators who were injured after riot police stormed an anti-government protest camp, outside the Salmaniya hospital where the casualties were sent to, in Manama February 17, 2011. Troops took control of Manama on Thursday after riot police stormed the anti-government protest camp at dawn and fought demonstrators on the streets, killing four people in Bahrain's worst violence in decades. REUTERS/Hamad I MohammedFeb. 18 (Westlaw Business) The winds of change blowing across the Northern Sahara all but demand a look at foreign operations disclosures, particularly as many companies are deeply entrenched in preparing this year’s annual reports. Political risk has many guises—war, expropriation, currency devaluation—but for companies doing business abroad, these risks don’t begin to give a complete picture of potential threats to earnings. Just six weeks into 2011, a number of well-known companies have already provided a glimpse of what’s keeping their board members awake at night.

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COLUMN-Qatar bank ban bad for Islamic finance

By Keith Mullin, Editor at Large, International Financing Review; the views expressed are his own.

LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Qatar’s decision to ban conventional banks from offering Islamic banking services with immediate effect and to wind down their Islamic windows by the end of the year is an absurd development.

It is disgracefully anti-competitive, counter-productive and there is every likelihood that the government will come to regret it.

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