Articles Posted in Financial Firms

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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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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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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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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A criminal indictment has been issued against Robert Bogucki, Barclays’ (BARC) ex-foreign exchange operation head in New York. Bogucki, who is a Barclay’s trader but has been on leave since late 2016, is accused of involvement in a scam to bilk one of the bank’s clients by engaging in front-running. This type of activity usually involves using advance knowledge about an upcoming order and trading in a way to profit from this information.

The criminal charges against Bogucki include multiple counts of wire fraud and a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His indictment alleges that in 2011, the ex-Barclays forex trader improperly used the information provided by Barclays’ client Hewlett-Packard Company prior to a significant trade. HP had retained the bank to execute the forex transaction, which involved $8.3B of forex options, and that was tied to plans to acquire another company.

Bogucki and others allegedly used the information given to them by HP to manipulate the “volatility’s” price so as to lower the price of the company’s options. The alleged fraud is said to have caused HP millions of dollars in losses.

“Volatility” is the metric that impacts forex options. Barclays is accused of making misrepresentations to Hewlett-Packard so as to benefit the bank.

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Meyers Associates is Fined by FINRA Over Misleading Sales Literature
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is ordering Meyers Associates, now called Windsor Street Capital, to pay a $75K fine for a number of securities violations, including sending sales literature that was misleading via email and not supervising books and records preparations. The firm’s principal, Bruce Meyers, is now barred from working as a firm supervisor or principal.

According to the regulator’s National Adjudicatory Council, Meyers Association has been named in 16 disciplinary actions this century. It paid about $390K in sanctions for different issues, including issuing false statements, supervisory deficiencies, omissions related to a securities offering, improper review of emails, inadequate maintenance of books and records, and not reporting customer complaints in a timely manner. Last year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission turned down Meyers’ appeal of a FINRA securities ruling that prevented him from serving as firm CEO.

Ex-RBS Trader Banned and Fined £250,000 for Manipulating Libor
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has banned ex-Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) trader Neil Danzinger from the securities industry and ordered him to pay a $338,000 over allegations that he rigged the London interbank offered rate (Libor). According to the regulator, Danziger, a former RBS interest rate derivatives trader, “routinely” asked RBS Libor submitters to modify the rate to benefit his trading positions. He also allegedly factored in certain trading positions when serving as a submitter and on more than one occasion got a broker to help him to rig other banks’ yen Libor submissions.

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According to Reuters, Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS) has settled a mortgage-backed securities fraud case brought by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) for $125M. The settlement resolves claims alleging that the bank made misrepresentations when selling MBSs to the pension funds, which contend that they sustained millions of dollars in losses as a result.

According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a probe by his office determined that the descriptions the firm provided to investors “failed to accurately disclose the true characteristics” of many of the mortgages backing the securities, but that RBS, which knew about the alleged misrepresentations, did nothing to remedy them. The state AG’s investigation also found that RBS did not conduct the necessary due diligence to eliminate the loans that were of “poor quality.” Becerra contends that RBS purposely misled CalPERS and CalSTRS to enrich itself. He noted that the MBS fraud settlement gives back the money to the pension funds that the bank “wrongfully took” from them.

Already, The California AG’s office has gotten back more than $1B over securities that were sold to the state’s public pension funds, which sustained losses during the economic crisis of 2008. Last year, $150M was recovered from Moody’s, the credit rating agency. In 2015, $210M was recovered from another credit rating agency, Standard & Poor’s. Other banks to have settled include Citigroup (C) for $102M, Bank of America for $300M and J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) for $300M.

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According to Reuters, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC) must pay FINRA and the SEC $13M in penalties each — $26M in total — because its anti-money-laundering procedures and policies were purportedly inaccurate. According to the regulators, from ’11 to ’15, these policies and procedures were “not reasonably designed” enough to account for the additional risks involved in certain services offered by some of its retail brokerage accounts.

The SEC’s cease-and-desist order states that Merrill Lynch did not do an adequate enough job of monitoring, identifying, and reporting certain suspect activity involving transaction patterns in customer accounts. Among the allegations is that when the firm provided traditional banking services, the software that was supposed to identify possibly suspect transactions did not screen for such activities.

The $26M fine comes just two months after the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK fined Merrill Lynch $45.5M for not reporting 68.5 million exchange traded derivative transactions between ’14 and ’16. Because the firm’s wealth management division cooperated with the FCA’s probe, the original fine of $64.9M was reduced by 30%.

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Raymond James Financial to Pay Fine to FINRA Over Email Communications
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has fined Raymond James Financial Services (RJF) $2M for not maintaining supervisory systems and procedures that were “reasonably designed” enough to oversee emails. The firm settled the case but without denying or admitting to the charges. It also agreed to a risk-based retrospective review of past emails for potential violations.

FINRA examined Raymond James’ email system “during a nine-year review period.” According to the self-regulatory organization, the system had significant flaws that allowed email communications to not undergo “meaningful review.” As a result, “unreasonable risk” was created that could have allowed for “certain misconduct” to go undetected. Also, the firm did not assign enough resources or staff to the team tasked with evaluating emails that had been flagged by the system, even as the number of flagged correspondence grew in volume.

FINRA said that Raymond James “unreasonably excluded” certain personnel who worked on customer brokerage accounts from “email surveillance.” The SRO claims that the emails of 300 registered representatives who were employed in branches with their own email servers were not subject to the “lexicon” of phrases and words for detecting emails that might merit review for potentially suspect conduct.

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