Deutsche Bank Securities (DB) will pay a $9.5B penalty to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for not properly safeguarding material nonpublic research information. Even though it is settling, Deutsche Bank is not denying or admitting to the findings.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) subsidiary RBS Securities Inc. will pay the state of Connecticut $120M to settle allegations related to its dealings with mortgage-backed securities leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. According to state officials, RBS played a part in the crisis when it neglected to do the proper due diligence around certain tools for mortgage-backed investments. They accused the subsidiary of unethical and dishonest behavior, as well as of making false statements.They contend that RBS, which was one of the largest underwriters of residential mortgage-backed securities, did not make sure that the information it offered about RMBS deals was accurate. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said that he and the state’s Department of Banking worked together in investigating this matter.
RBS doesn’t securitize newly originated RMBSs anymore. It was, however, the lead underwriter for approximately 250 residential mortgage-backed securities between ’05 and ’08. Part of its job was to perform the due diligence on mortgage loans used for collateral. However, Connecticut claims that RBS’s due diligence was “inadequate,” causing “omissions and misstatements” to be made to the public and investors. They even contend that in certain instance, RBS rated certain loans that had already been lower rated by third-party vendors with higher-grade ratings.
New Proposed Amendment Would Shorten Period for Settling Securities TransactionsThe SEC has voted to propose a rule amendment that would abbreviate the typical length of a settlement cycle period for the majority of broker-dealer securities transactions. Instead of having this period run from three business day following the trade date it would be reduced to two days. The hope is that the amendment, if approved, would lower the risks that can occur due to the value and quantity of unresolved securities transactions before a settlement is completed.The proposal would modify the Exchange Act’s Rule 15c6-1(a). Under the amendment, a broker-dealer would not be allowed to get into a contract for the sale or purchase of a security that provides fund payments unless it is an exempted security, municipal security, government security, banker’s acceptance, commercial paper, or commercial bill. The regulator hopes that the proposed amendment would reduce the market, credit, and liquidity risks for all participants in the U.S. market.SEC Adopts Rules Impacting Securities Clearing AgenciesThe Commission has adopted rules to enhance the regulatory framework for securities clearing agencies. The improved standards would preside over the running of and overseeing of securities clearing agencies that are either systemically important or are taking part in security-based swaps and other complex transactions. The SEC also voted to propose that the enhanced standards be applied to other securities clearing agency categories.
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing an insider trading case in which a man convicted of the crime is disputing that decision. Bassam Salman claims that he should not have been convicted of insider trading and that the trading he engaged in was not illegal.Salman made nearly $1.2M trading on information provided by his brother-in-law. The information he traded on had to do with deals involving Citigroup Inc. (C) clients. His relative, Maher Kara, was an investment banker there.However, as Salman’s lawyer argues, prosecutors have to prove that the alleged source of insider information in insider trading cases obtained a tangible benefit in return for providing the tip. Salman maintains that his brother-in-law did not make such a gain.
Credit Suisse Group AG (CS) has admitted wrongdoing and will pay a penalty of $90 M to the SEC settle civil claims accusing the firm of misrepresenting how much it brought into its wealth management business.
According to the regulator’s probe, Credit Suisse strayed from its methodology for figuring out NNA (net new assets), which it disclosed to the public. This is the metric that investors value to gauge a financial institution’s success in bringing in new business.
Although disclosures said that the bank was assessing assets individually according to each client’s goals and intentions, Credit Suisse would occasionally employ an undisclosed approach that was “results-driven” to determine NNA to satisfy specific targets that senior management had set. SEC Enforcement Division Director Andrew J. Ceresney said that the bank’s failure to reveal that it was employing a results-driven approach prevented investors from having the chance to properly judge Credit Suisse’ success in drawing in new money.
Brian S. Block, the ex-CFO of American Realty Capital Properties Inc., now called Vereit, has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that accuse him making false filings with the SEC, making false certifications, securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. His criminal trial is scheduled for May 2017.The U.S. Department of Justice had filed the charges against Block earlier this month. He was arrested at his home in September.According to a statement issued by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Block is accused of knowingly misleading the public and doing so through material misrepresentations about a key metric for evaluating the real estate investment trust’s 2014 financial performance. The government claims that Block overstated, by approximately $13M, the “adjusted funds from operations” for that year. As a result, the public thought that ARCP was performing better than how it was actually doing.
SEC Claims Peruvian Attorneys and Broker-Dealer Manager Used Accounts to Insider TradeThe U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against three people in Peru, accusing them of insider trading prior to the merging two mining companies. The regulator wants penalties, disgorgement, and interest.According to the Commission, HudBay Minerals Inc. employee Nino Coppero del Valle told fellow lawyer and friend Julio Antonio Castro Roca about a tender offer the mining company had turned in to acquire shares in August Resource Corp., which is located in Arizona. Hudbay is based in Canada.Castro then allegedly traded using this materially nonpublic information via a brokerage account that was held by a shell company in the British Virgin Islands. He is accused of doing this so that the trades couldn’t be traced back to the two of them. They purportedly made over $112,000 in illicit profits.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) will settle two civil residential mortgage-backed securities lawsuits for $1.1B. The payment will go to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and resolves claims accusing the bank of selling faulty MBSs to two corporate credit unions, causing their failure. The federal actions were brought in California and Kansas, respectively. This is one of the largest settlements reached in mortgage-backed securities cases brought against banks.The allegedly toxic RMBSs were sold to Western Corporate Federal Credit Union and the Central Federal Credit Union. By settling, however, RBS is not admitting fault.It was just last year that Royal Bank of Scotland agreed to pay $129.6M to NCUA to resolve claims over its sale of mortgage-backed securities to Members United Corporate Federal Credit Union and Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union. Both are now defunct, too.
Merrill Lynch, a Bank of America Corp. (BAC) unit must pay a $12.5M fine to resolve Securities and Exchange Commission allegations accusing the brokerage firm of having weak controls that led to mini-flash crashes. This is the largest penalty ever imposed for alleged market access rule violations.
According to the SEC, at least 15 times from 2012 to 2014, the bank established internal trading limits that were too high and, as a result not effective. These caused disruptions in the market.
Even though there were red flags, said the regulator, Merrill Lynch purportedly did not adequately assess whether it had controls that were reasonably designed and the brokerage firm did not remedy the issues when they arose fast enough. In one example cited by the SEC, Merrill Lynch purportedly applied a 5-million shares/order limit for one stock that traded at only about 69,000 shares/day. Because of this erroneous orders compelled certain stock prices to drop and then recover abruptly within seconds. For example, nearly 3% of Google’s stock dropped in under a second.