Financial Regulatory Forum

U.S. broker-dealers scrutinized for anti-laundering compliance in Venezuelan currency swaps

By Brett Wolf

NEW YORK, Nov. 13 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Securities industry regulators are beginning to ask U.S. broker-dealers tough questions about how they are mitigating money laundering and sanctions risks associated with their involvement in a 2-year-old currency exchange system run by the Venezuelan government, sources familiar with the issue said.

“There are a lot of questions being asked by regulators and compliance officers,” said Sven Stumbauer, managing director of Veris Consulting Inc’s Miami office. “And some broker-dealers, especially small introducing brokers, cannot answer them.” (more…)

Financial cybercrime a national security threat, U.S. Justice Department official warns

By Julie DiMauro and Stuart Gittleman

NEW YORK, Sept. 21 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - U.S.-based financial services institutions that don’t tell law enforcement agencies about having been victimized by cybercrime are compromising the nation’s security as well as that of their firms, a top Department of Justice official warned this week.

The remarks on Wednesday by Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the department’s criminal division, came as a financial industry group warned banks to be on heightened alert for cyber attacks after Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase experienced unexplained outages on their public websites. (more…)

U.S. Justice Department targeting shop landlords in fight against medical marijuana industry

By Brett Wolf

NEW YORK, June 12 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - A civil statute designed primarily to seize the assets of drug trafficking organizations is now being wielded by federal prosecutors in California in an unconventional and little-noticed attack on medical-marijuana shops in the state.

Prosecutors have brought more than a dozen lawsuits seeking the forfeiture of commercial properties that house marijuana shops. The actions pressure owners to either evict these controversial tenants or face costly legal battles or the loss of their buildings. (more…)

U.S. tax guilty plea involves unspecified major UK bank, Zurich banker

By Kim Dixon

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb 16 (Reuters) – A U.S. client of a big global bank based in England pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with assets stashed abroad to evade taxes, part of a widening crackdown on foreign banks and their customers.

The plea is the first among the government’s recent tax prosecutions that involves a major bank other than Swiss banking giant UBS AG. UBS last year admitted that it actively helped U.S. clients to hide money abroad.

Andrew Silva, of Sterling, Virginia, a doctor, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government by hiding about $250,000 in a Swiss account of that British bank.

Swiss minister says US insists on UBS tax deal – paper

ZURICH, Feb 11 (Reuters) – The Swiss government will probably have to turn to parliament to resolve a legal impasse threatening a deal struck with the United States to hand over data from UBS AG clients, a minister was quoted as saying.

The Swiss government had raised the option of parliament retroactively approving the deal, involving UBS clients suspected of dodging taxes, after a Swiss court ruled in favour of a UBS client seeking to prevent her account data from being given to the U.S. tax agency.

But the government’s preferred solution has so far been to negotiate a way out, hoping the United States would drop the issue if more than 10,000 UBS clients had turned themselves in voluntarily.

Swiss minister sees economic risk in U.S. tax dispute over UBS, shares fall

By Lisa Jucca

ZURICH, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Shares in UBS AG fell to a 6-1/2 month low on Monday after the justice minister underscored the risk to the Swiss economy should the bank’s settlement of a U.S. tax dispute unravel.

Traders said news Germany was considering buying data of 1,500 possible tax evaders with Swiss bank accounts from an informant also weighed on the shares.

UBS settled a damaging tax row with the United States in August by agreeing to transfer data on 4,450 clients to U.S. tax authorities. But that deal is in question after a Swiss court ruled last month that most of the data cannot be transferred.

ANALYSIS-Banks not out of woods after Swiss tax ruling

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) – The Swiss court ruling in favor of a U.S. client who stashed funds in a UBS account sets a higher hurdle to aggressive efforts by the U.S. government to go after other banks helping wealthy tax cheats — but the banks are not out of the woods yet.

A Swiss court ruled last week that the client’s failure to file a tax form did not constitute “fraud or the like,” a requirement for data to be revealed under a double taxation agreement with the United States.

The ruling puts in jeopardy Switzerland’s delivery of 4,450 UBS client accounts to U.S. authorities, as agreed in August.

Swiss government moves to save UBS tax deal

BERNE, Jan 27 (Reuters) – The Swiss government is to talk to the U.S. authorities in a bid to resolve a legal impasse that has threatened to derail a key tax deal over UBS client data, it said on Wednesday.

A UBS client last week won a Swiss court appeal to prevent her account data from being given to the U.S. taxman, throwing doubt on Switzerland’s ability to deliver details of 4,450 UBS client accounts to U.S. authorities as agreed in August.

“The cabinet is convinced that it can definitively overcome the continuing legal and sovereignty conflict with the United States with all its damaging consequences for Switzerland’s economy and as a financial centre,” the government said.

U.S. sanctions-violation fine for Credit Suisse raises Iran alarm

By Lisa Jucca and Steve Slater

ZURICH/LONDON, Dec 16 (Reuters) – A surprise $536 million settlement by Credit Suisse to a U.S. probe over financial dealings with Iran should only do short-term damage to the Swiss bank, but others could now be in the line of fire.

Credit Suisse said late on Tuesday it was in advanced talks over a settlement to a U.S. investigation into payments made between 2002 and 2007 involving countries and entities hit by U.S. economic sanctions. A person familiar with the issue said the probe related to dealings with Iran.

The Financial Times said U.S. authorities are believed to be investigating nine banks in relation to Iran, without citing sources.

Obama creates U.S. task force to fight financial crime

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during  a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington to announce the establishment of a task force to investigate and prosecute financial crimes connected to the past year's financial crisis and to try to deter future fraud, November 17, 2009.  At rear is U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.        REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES BUSINESS POLITICS CRIME LAW) By James Vicini and Jeremy Pelofsky
WASHINGTON, Nov 17 (Reuters) – The Obama administration created a new task force on Tuesday to crack down on financial fraud, an increasingly important political issue after a spike in mortgage scams and big Wall Street trading scandals.

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