Financial Regulatory Forum

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…)

Reputation risk may outweigh fines in UK financial regulator enforcements (Complinet)

A man is seen behind the entrance door of the offices of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in Canary Wharf, London, November 19, 2010By Joanne Wallen (Complinet)

Jan. 25 – British firms continue to be referred to enforcement despite the best intentions of the Financial Services Authority’s thematic reviews and credible deterrence strategies. On the one hand it looks as though the risks are considered to be worth taking. On the other, reputational damage and loss of trust for the whole industry are at stake.

Last week was overshadowed by the large fine that Barclays received for giving unsuitable investment advice to retail clients about two funds in particular. The fine was 7 million pounds, and the firm is also likely to have to pay up to 60 million pounds in redress, as well as carrying out a past business review and employing a firm of accountants to review customer files. The total cost of the enforcement action will, therefore, be significant.

Compared with the amount of investment a large firm would have to make to consolidate all its legacy systems into one, to revamp all its systems and controls throughout the entire group, to beef up its compliance team and to ensure that every member of staff was properly trained, the costs may not be so high after all.

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