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In the UK, the Serious Fraud Office is charging Barclays Bank (BARC) with engaging in illegal financial assistance when it gave Qatar Holdings LLC a $3B loan in 2008 so that the latter could acquire shares in Barclays Plc. British prosecutors had previously charged Barclays Plc. and four bank executives with conspiring to commit fraud and providing unlawful financial assistance.

In Britain, public companies are usually not allowed to lend out funds to be used to buy their own shares. Barclays has come under fire for the way it handled investments made by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, as well as by a group of investors. The money lent to Barclays is believed to have helped the British Bank avoid getting a tax bailout during the global financial crisis. Such assistance would have likely lead to greater oversight over Barclays and closer examination of how much the bank’s executives were making at the time.

Barclays denies the charges against Barclays Plc. and Barclays Bank, which is its operating arm. Prosecutors, however, believe that the loan funds were put back into the bank to give it the capital it needed.

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In a civil settlement reached with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Deutsche Bank Securities will repay commercial mortgage-backed securities customers more than $3.7M over allegedly false and misleading statements related to their purchase of these investments. The firm and its ex-CMBS trading desk head trader Benjamin Solomon agreed to resolve the charges against them but without denying or admitting to regulator’s findings.

According to the SEC’s probe, when selling the CMBSs, Deutsche Bank (DB)’s salespeople and traders made statements that were false and misleading. This caused customers to pay too much for the securities because they were not given accurate information about how much the firm had paid for them. Deutsche Bank also is accused of not having properly designed procedures for surveillance and compliance that could stop and identify the types of wrongful behaviors that would cause commercial mortgage-backed securities buyers financial harm while allowing the firm to profit.

To resolve the CMBS fraud charges, Deutsche Bank will pay customers back all profits on the securities’ trades in which a misrepresentation was made. That figure is over $3.7M, including $1.48M of disgorgement. The bank will also pay a $750K penalty.

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Rabobank NA Admits to Anti-Money Laundering Deficiencies, Will Pay Nearly $369M
Rabobank National Association, a subsidiary of Rabobank UA (RABO), has pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy for obstructing the Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s examination of the bank while hiding that its anti-money laundering program had certain deficiencies. Now, the firm will pay almost $369M for not preventing illicit funds from going through the bank.

With its guilty plea, Rabobank is admitting that it conspired with a number of its ex-executives to try defrauding the US by “unlawfully impeding” the OCC’s efforts to regulate the California subsidiary, including obstruction of an OCC examination of the bank’s branches throughout the state. Rabobank acknowledged that because of deficiencies in its AML program, the bank made it possible for hundreds of millions of dollars from Mexico and other places to be deposited in its rural bank branches and then allowed to money to move via checks, wire transfers, and withdrawals. Federal regulators were not notified even though they should have been.

During a 2012 OCC examination, Rabobank executives purposely tried to “hide and minimize” its AML program deficiencies so as to avoid new sanctions. Rabobank was already sanctioned in ’06 and ’08 for failures that were “nearly identical” to the ones at issue now. Late last year, ex-Rabobank VP George Martin reached a deferred prosecution deal with the US government for aiding and abetting the bank in not having an AML program that met Bank Secrecy Act requirements.

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In a settlement reached with the CFTC, Deutsche Bank Securities (DBSI) will pay a $70M civil penalty to resolve allegations that it attempted to rig the ISDAFIX benchmark. The regulator contends that from 1/2007 through 5/2012, the firm had a number of its traders try to rig the USD ISDAFIX, which is the benchmark used globally for interest rate products.

According to the CFTC’s order, Deutsche bank Securities would make bids, offers, and execute transactions in certain interest rate products such as US Treasuries and swap spreads at the 11am fixing time– or, if not, then close to that hour– to impact the rates seen on the electronic interest rate swap screen. They purportedly did this to lower or raise the reference rates of the swaps broker and influence the USD ISDAFIX when it was published.

Recordings of phone conversations and electronic communications show firm traders talking about taking actions in order to benefit their employer. Also, some Deutsche Bank Securities employees are accused of turning in misleading or fake submissions, again in an attempt to influence the final USD ISDAFIX rates that were published. The CFTC said that such actions were more about the traders’ attempts to manipulate USD ISDAFIX to their benefit rather than an honest assessment of the actual costs associated with going into a certain interest rate swap.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed securities fraud charges against Nicholas Joseph Genovese. The regulator contends that the purported hedge fund manager and his Willow Creek Advisors LLC misappropriated at least six investors’ money to pay for securities trading in his own brokerage account. Now, the SEC wants a temporary restraining order to freeze assets and stop further alleged violations.

According to the Commission’s complaint, Genovese misrepresented his previous experience in the securities industry and as a money manager, as well as the size of his business, including, that he:

· Oversaw $4B of the assets belonging to the Genovese Drug Store family.

· Ran Willow Creek Investments LP with $30B-$39B of assets under management when that figure was closer to less than $10M.

· Falsely stated that he and Willow Creek Advisors employed up to 60 people when the reality was closer to under 10.

· Claimed that his hedge fund made 30-40% investment gains annually when losses where what were actually incurred.

· Hid is criminal history, including, according to news sources, past convictions for forgery and grand larceny.

· Did not tell investors he previously filed for bankruptcy.

· Touted an education and professional history that he’d fabricated, including that he was a former Goldman Sachs (GS) partner and an ex-Bear Stearns portfolio manager, as well as had earned an MBA from Dartmouth.

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BNP Paribas USA (BNP), A BNP Paribas unit, will pay $90M to settle a criminal case alleging foreign currency price manipulation. It also pleaded guilty by admitting that it conspired to fix prices for Eastern European, Central European, African, and Middle Eastern (CEEMEA)currencies between 9/2011 and 7/2013.

According to the US Justice Department, the BNP Paribas unit engaged in rigging prices through fake trades, orchestrated trades, and by quoting specific prices to certain customers, all on an electronic trading platform. The settlement also settles investigations conducted by the New York State Department of Financial Services and the US Federal Reserve.

In a statement, BNP Paribas USA said that it regretted “the past misconduct” that resulted in this case. The unit will now cooperate with the US government’s ongoing investigation into currency rigging involving the FX market. The bank joins Barclays Plc (BARC), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JP), Citigroup (C), UBS Group AG (UBS), and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS) in pleading guilty to currency rigging in US probes. Together, the six banks have agreed to pay over $2.8B in fines.

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Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG (DB) will pay a $30M civil penalty to resolve charges brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission accusing them of spoofing. According to the regulator, from at least 2/2008 through 9/2014, DB AG, with the help of a number of precious metal traders, sought to rig the price of precious metals futures contracts that were traded on the Commodity Exchange, Inc.

The CFTC’s order said that the traders worked alone and with each other to buy or sell these contracts while planning all along to cancel them before they were executed after a smaller offer was made on the opposite side of the market. The spoof orders were purportedly made to give the impression of market depth in order to generate trading interest.

The regulator found that through the traders’ actions, Deutsche Bank AG sought to not only rig the price of precious metals futures contracts but also to profit from these manipulations. The CFTC said the firm worked with one trader in Singapore who made orders and trades to “trigger customer stop-loss orders.”

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After backing Outcome Health, an advertising company, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners (GS) and other investors are among those suing the startup for fraud and to get their money back. The lawsuit, filed a couple of months ago, comes in the wake of allegations that investors were fooled by inflated information financial performances and were charged for ad space that they never received. Outcome denies any wrongdoing.

It wasn’t too long ago that the company was generating high profits and revenue, while investors were told that their returns were guaranteed. Just last spring, institutional investors, including Goldman, infused $478M into the ad company, which streams pharmaceutical advertising onto tablets and flatscreens at doctor offices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there had been red flags even back then. The newspaper noted how even the “savviest investors” can miss or ignore warnings. For example, Outcome already had a lot of debt, including $325M for a loan. It also lacked an independent board to conduct oversight and its co-founders were poised to make an “unusually large payout.”

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In the US, HSBC Holdings Plc. will pay approximately $100M in penalties to settle a Department of Justice’s criminal probe into currency rate rigging—that’s a $63.1M fine and $38.4M in restitution. The bank’s deal is a three-year deferred prosecution agreement, which means that no criminal charges will be brought as long as HSBC fulfills the terms. As part of the settlement, HSBC will help the government with its criminal probe of individuals who may have played a part in the rate manipulation and enhance its internal controls.

The currency rate rigging allegations involved at least two ex-HBSC employees, including Mark Johnson, the ex-worldwide head of its foreign exchange trading and Stuart Scott, the ex-head of its European currency trading. Johnson has already been convicted in the front-running case involving a $3.5B trade by client Cairn Energy Plc. He is scheduled for sentencing next month. Scott is currently fighting a court order in the UK so as to avoid extradition back to the US to face the criminal charges against hm.

Both men are accused of buying British pounds leading up to the Cairn Energy trade, with the expectation that their purchases, and the one by Cairn Energy, would cause the pound’s price to go up. After the Cairn Energy order went through and the value of their pounds rose, the two men sold their currency at a profit.

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The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan has decided that the shareholder lawsuit brought against Goldman Sachs (GS) for its high-risk subprime securities leading up to the 2008 financial crisis cannot move forward as a class action securities fraud case. The court said that a lower court judge had put too much of a burden on the bank by mandating that it prove that the misleading statements and conflicts of interest alleged by the plaintiffs did not affect its stock price. Shareholders, however, are allowed to pursue shareholders class certification again.

The plaintiffs contend that between 2007 and the middle of 2010, they lost over $13B because the Wall Street bank was not forthcoming about being able to deal with certain conflicts. They accused Goldman Sachs of hiding short positions made in a number of subprime mortgage collateralized debt obligations, including the:

  • Timberwolf
  • Anderson Mezzanine Funding 2007-1
  • Abacus 2007 AC-1
  • Hudson Mezzanine Funding 2006-1

 

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