Financial Regulatory Forum

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…)

Barclays’ governance, compliance weaknesses exposed in U.S. regulator’s findings

By Emmanuel Olaoye

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, July 3 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - A U.S. regulator’s case against Barclays revealed significant failures with the bank’s internal controls as well as failures with its corporate governance.

Barclays agreed last week to pay $453 million to U.S. and British authorities to settle allegations that it rigged key interbank lending rates, called the London Inter-bank Offering Rate (Libor) and a separate Euribor rate, by manipulating its reported rates in submissions to the British Bankers Association, which calculated the benchmark figures. (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 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…)

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: boardrooms fret over corporate espionage and federal guidance regimes

By Alex Lee

(Business Law Currents) – Dodd-Frank related governance issues such as say-on-pay and proxy access have been well known focal points for boardrooms during the 2012 proxy and annual meeting season, but another issue has topped headlines and is of increasing concern to boardrooms: business intelligence gathering activities. Faced with shareholder oversight, the risks posed by private intelligence gathering firms and governmental regulation in this area, companies must ensure that they abide by accepted best practices, the highest ethical standards and standards for compliance with laws.

Shareholders and governing bodies have enhanced scrutiny of corporate governance, with scandals such as MF Global highlighting abuses of corporate power and potential criminal activities by company officers. Effective corporate governance principles dictate that those who conduct unethical or, worse, illegal activities on behalf of a company must be brought to heel. (more…)

Banking on Volcker: Big Crisis, Big Rule

By Thomson Reuters Accelus staff

NEW YORK, Oct. 19 (Business Law Currents) – Banking lawyers should be forgiven if they’re not returning calls right away: they’re busy trying to digest the Volcker Rule (or “the rule”). The proposed rule’s 298-page doorstop represents the collective efforts of the Treasury Department, Fed, FDIC and SEC to implement §619 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which itself added a new §13 to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (the BHC Act). The intent of the Volcker Rule is to “generally prohibit any banking entity from engaging in proprietary trading or from acquiring or retaining an ownership interest in, sponsoring, or having certain relationships with a hedge fund or private equity fund (“covered fund”), subject to certain exemptions.”

So does the Volcker Rule satisfy its mandate? To paraphrase ‘The Simpsons’: yes with an “if,” no with an “unless.” The rule carves out significant exemptions from the proscription against proprietary trading, but each of these exceptions has a number of criteria required to take advantage of the exemption. Moreover, a number of the rule’s measures provide for rebuttable presumptions of non-compliance for certain types of trading activity. (more…)

  •