Financial Regulatory Forum

UBS felony plea in Libor deal ushers in tougher enforcement era

By Nick Paraskeva, Compliance Complete contributor

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The UBS felony fraud plea for manipulating reporting of the Libor interbank lending rate marks a regulatory turning point towards tougher enforcement. After the U.S. election confirmed Dodd-Frank is here to stay, and with most Group of 20 reforms mapped out, rulemaking will proceed at a slower pace. The shift will impact the financial-industry, both in the U.S. and globally, which will face a greater supervisory willingness to impose high penalties, and a focus on ethical compliance.

“Today’s announcement – and $1.5 billion global resolution – underscores the Justice Department’s firm commitment to investigating and prosecuting such conduct, and to holding perpetrators of these crimes accountable for their actions,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in announcing the deal this week. His involvement in the enforcement was notable, as previous announcements have been made by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. (more…)

Record-setting bank forfeiture at ING ignites debate over lack of banker prosecutions

By Brett Wolf

NEW YORK, June 20 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – A lack of any criminal prosecutions associated with the U.S. government’s deal last week in which Dutch bank ING agreed to forfeit a record $619 million for helping Iranians and Cubans pump billions of dollars through the U.S. financial system has drawn accusations that U.S. law enforcement agencies would rather collect fines than punish individual executives. (more…)

Switzerland says goodbye to light touch regulation

By Rachel Wolcott

LONDON, May 3 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - These days even the Swiss are fed up with their bankers. The financial crisis has riled Swiss citizens to the point that the Alpine country’s reputation for light-touch financial regulation will soon be a thing of the past. In a direct democracy such as Switzerland, where every citizen can vote on laws and even propose them, the people have spoken. What they have said is: we want more rules and regulation for bankers and asset managers.

“In the past people were against regulations which seemed too restrictive, but this is changing. The public mood is still critical vis-à-vis the banks and the culture of big bonuses for board of directors and management. Now we may see overregulation also because of the immediate political pressure facing a direct democracy,” Marc Raggenbass, head of the regulatory, compliance and legal practice at Deloitte in Zurich, told Thomson Reuters. (more…)

The compliance lessons, so far, arising from the UBS rogue trader

LONDON, Sept. 23 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – UBS’s loss of $2.3 billion has hit the headlines worldwide, and while full details of what went wrong are unlikely to be public in the near future there are already compliance lessons for other firms. UK and Swiss regulators have launched an investigation into:

    the details of the unauthorised trading activity;
    the control failures which permitted the activity to remain undetected; and
    the overall strength of UBS’ controls to prevent unauthorised or fraudulent trading activity in its investment bank.

Although the investigation is ongoing, and the regulators have expressly stated that they do not, as yet, have an expected timescale, there are a number of lessons or steps for other firms to consider. (more…)

Rogue traders will always pose risk to compliance controls, says industry

Traders work at their desks in front of the DAX indexBy Martin Coyle and Alex Robson

LONDON/NEW YORK, Sept. 16 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The $2 billion rogue trading incident at UBS demonstrates that determined individuals will always be able to circumvent internal systems and controls despite the recent regulatory scrutiny on this area, industry officials said. The case also highlighted the need for banks to think about their reward structures, they added.

UBS yesterday confirmed that 31-year-old London-based trader Kweku Adoboli had lost the bank around $2 billion in unauthorised deals. The director of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and “Delta 1″ was arrested on suspicion of fraud at his desk by City of London Police at 3:30am. (more…)

ANALYSIS-Asia next in line of fire for U.S. tax police

By Jason Rhodes, Kevin Lim and Joe Rauch

ZURICH/SINGAPORE/CHARLOTTE, July 7 (Reuters) – After forcing Switzerland’s top bank UBS  to its knees for helping U.S. residents dodge taxes, U.S. authorities are moving on other banks and countries used to hide clients’ cash.

Washington inflicted a tough lesson last year on Switzerland by forcing the world’s biggest offshore banking centre to lift its treasured bank secrecy and slapping a $780-million penalty on UBS.

The Department of Justice is now going after other offshore centres like Singapore, which have attracted undeclared money that left Switzerland, and has opened a criminal inquiry into Asian clients of Britain’s HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s No. 1 bank.

Seven insider dealing suspects head for UK court

   LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) – Seven men charged with running an insider trading ring with information gleaned from the London printers of Swiss bank UBS AG <UBSN.VX><UBS.N> and UK brokerage Cazenove <JPM.N> will appear in a British court on Wednesday. (more…)

SPECIAL REPORT – How the U.S. cracked open secret vaults at UBS

* To read this story in PDF format, please click here:

By Lisa Jucca

ZURICH, April 9 (Reuters)- After the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, Switzerland’s largest bank was teetering. UBS, which was more than three times bigger than Lehman in terms of assets, had to write down some $50 billion during that tumultuous period.

Investors the world over breathed a sigh of relief on Oct. 16 when the Swiss government rescued UBS. But unbeknownst to them at the time, the bank faced a potentially devastating crisis on a very different front.

One day after the bailout, top executives from UBS and Swiss regulators were summoned to a closed-door meeting in New York by U.S. officials who were conducting a wide-ranging tax fraud investigation that centered on the bank.

Former UBS chairman willing to give evidence-report

   ZURICH, March 9 (Reuters) – Former UBS <UBS.N><UBSN.VX> chairman Marcel Ospel is willing to give evidence to a parliamentary committee into the Swiss government’s bailout of the bank during the financial crisis, daily Blick reported on Tuesday. (more…)

IRS to take “macro” approach on U.S. foreign bank law

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) – Foreign banks will likely not need to identify holders of millions of U.S. accounts individually, a top U.S. tax official said, in the run-up to a new reporting law aimed at catching wealthy tax dodgers.

The law, expected to be passed by the U.S. Congress in coming months, would slap a 30 percent withholding tax on U.S. income of foreign financial institutions if they fail to report U.S. account holders, among other provisions.

It comes amid sharpened focus on wealthy Americans stashing funds abroad, in particular after a landmark settlement with the Swiss bank UBS AG  last year in which the bank admitted it actively helped Americans dodge billions in taxes.

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