Articles Posted in Citigroup

Citigroup to Pay Plaintiffs Suing Over Libor Rigging

Citigroup Inc. (C) will resolve a private US antitrust lawsuit alleging Libor manipulation by paying plaintiffs $130M. The litigation was brought by “over-the-counter” investors who engaged in direct transactions with banks that belonged to the panel that determines London Interbank Offered Rate.

As part of the proposed preliminary settlement, the bank will pay the money to a fund for future class members. It also will cooperate with the lawsuits brought against other banks also accused of involvement in Libor rigging. Despite settling the case, however, Citigroup is not admitting or denying any wrongdoing.

Four Firms Are Ordered to Pay $4.75M for Market Access Rule Violations

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, CBOE Holdings company Bats, the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and their affiliated Exchanges have fined four financial firms $4.75M collectively for violating the Securities Exchange Act of 1934’s Rule 15c3-5, which is also known as the Market Access Rule. The fines are: $2.5M for Deutsche Bank (DB), $800K for J.P. Morgan (JPM), $1M for Citigroup (C), and $450K for Interactive Brokers (IBKR).

The firms have given market access to quite a number clients that engage in millions of trades daily. However, according to FINRA, Bats, NASDAQ, and NYSE, when doing so, they purportedly did not comply with at least one of the Market Access Rule’s provisions when they did not put in place certain risk management controls and procedures so that orders that were “erroneous or duplicative,” or went beyond certain kinds of thresholds, could be detected or prevented. The firms are also accused of not having systems in place for properly supervising customer trading so that “potentially volatile and manipulative activity” could be avoided.

In the US, former London traders Rohan Ramchandani, Chris Ashton, and Richard Usher have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges accusing them of conspiring to manipulate prices in the foreign exchange market. Ashton previously worked at Barclays (BARC) as the bank’s global head of spot currency trading. Ramchandani used to be Citigroup’s (C) G-10 spot currency trading head. Usher served a similar role at JPMorgan & Chase (JPM).

Prosecutors are accusing them of conspiring with other traders in a Forex rigging scheme to share sensitive client information through an electronic chat room referred to as the “Cartel,” as well as via phone, in order to quash competitors.

The criminal charges are related to a global probe into currency market rigging. To date, seven banks have paid approximately $10B fines over this type of manipulation, including Citigroup, Barclays (BARC), JPMorgan, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

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Former Citigroup Global Markets Traders Accused of Spoofing Arrive at Non-Prosecution Deals
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission has reached non-prosecution agreements with three ex-Citigroup Global Markets Inc.(C) traders. Daniel Liao, Jeremy Lao, and Shlomo Salant admitted to engaging in spoofing in US treasury futures markets while working for the firm. The three of them also provided information about misconduct that was committed by others.

According to the non-prosecution deals, each trader submitted big orders on the opposite of orders that were smaller with the intention of cancelling the bigger orders. They engaged in spoofing to fill their smaller orders at prices they preferred.

The agreements with the ex-Citigroup traders comes nearly six months after the bank settled with the CFTC allegations over spoofing and supervisory-related deficiencies. A number of unlawful incidents at Citigroup were identified in the non-prosecutorial deals.

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Former Citigroup Global Markets Traders to Pay Penalties for Spoofing
Ex-Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (C) traders Jonathan Brims and Stephen Gola have settled spoofing charges that the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission brought against them. According to the regulator, the two men engaged in spoofing while trading for the firm, and they must now pay $200K and $350K in civil monetary penalties, respectively. They also are temporarily “banned from trading in futures markets.” Goal and Brims won’t be allowed to resume trading in the futures markets until six months after they’ve paid their penalties in full.

According to their respective orders, the two men engaged in spoofing, which involves making a bid or offer with the intention to cancel the bid or offer prior to execution of the bid. They did this over 1,000 times in different Chicago Mercantile Exchange US Treasury futures products. They would make offers or bids of at least 1,000 lots even though they planned to cancel the orders before they actually occurred.

The orders were made after another small offer or bid was made on the other side of the same market “or a correlated futures or cash market.” The CFTC said that the two men initiated the orders in order set up or increase an already existing imbalance in the order book. They purportedly canceled the orders after the smaller orders were filed or if they determined that there was too high a risk that their orders might actually go through.

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Oceanografía, formerly the biggest oil and gas company in Latin America, is accusing Citigroup (C) of using it to detract from probes into the fraud involving Banamex, which is Citibank’s Mexican subsidiary. Oceanografía collapsed in 2014.

Citigroup is accused of granting a $585M credit line to Oceanografía so that the latter could get hundreds of millions of dollars in cash advances for work by Pemex, an oil company owned by Mexico. However in February 2014, Pemex notified Citigroup that about $400M in Oceanografía invoices, which were supposed to secure the cash advances, had been forged, possibly by a Banamex employee. Because of this, Citibank cancelled Oceanografía’s credit line and the oil and gas company collapsed.

Oceanografía maintains that it never forged the invoices nor did it have cause for such illegal action.

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Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (C) has been ordered to pay $25M penalty by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to settle charges alleging spoofing in US Treasury futures markets. The regulator is also accusing the firm of not doing a diligent enough job of supervising agents and employees that were involved with the spoofing orders, which purportedly took place between 7/16/2011 and 12/31/2012.

Spoofing

Spoofing involves a trader making an offer or bid but with the intention of calling off the bid or offer before it actually goes through. According to the CFTC’s order, through five traders, Citigroup took part in spoofing over 2500 times in different Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) U.S. Treasury futures products. The spoofing strategy purportedly applied involved making offers or bids of at least one thousand lots but with no intention of allowing them to be executed.

 Nomura Home Equity Loan, Inc. and Nomura Asset Acceptance Corporation have agreed to jointly pay over $3M to settle allegations that they engaged in the sale of faulty residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) to the Western Corporate Federal Credit Union and the U.S. Central Federal Credit Union. The National Credit Union Administration brought the RMBS fraud case on behalf of the  two corporate credit unions.
 
It was in 2011 that the NCUA Board, while serving as liquidating agent for both financial institutions, brought the claims against the Nomura entities. The RMBS lawsuit was brought in federal district courts in Kansas and California.
The $3M settlement dismisses NCUA’s pending cases against the two firms. By settling, neither firm is denying or admitting to the alleged wrongdoing.

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Raymond James to Pay Vermont Almost $1.5M in Immigrant Visa Case
The Securities Division of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation said that Raymond James & Associates (RJF) must pay $1.45M in penalties because one of its registered representaitves allowed investor money to be misused in a$350M development fraud involving the EB-5 program. The program lets rich foreign investors obtain permanent residency if they invest a certain amount in projects that help establish jobs for U.S. citizens.

Earlier, a Securities and Exchange Commission-appointed receiver sued Raymond James, which received wire transfers involving the scam beginning in 2008. The money was from investors who thought they were investing in a Vermont ski resort. One of the fraudsters, Ariel Quiro, is accused of borrowing against the Raymond James accounts and using nearly $2.5M of investors’ money to cover margin interest loans to the firm. Last month, Raymond James arrived at a $5.95M settlement with the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation over violations involving the ski resort. $4.5M of the money was for paying back investors.

Regarding this $1.45M fine, Vermont regulators said that it was a Raymond James representative who set up the brokerage and margin accounts involved in the alleged scam. The financial representative also failed to procure the proper documentation showing that Quiros was entitled to act for certain limited partnerships and let him authorize the transfer of $13M in limited partnership money to buy the ski resort even though written instructions directed otherwise.

Citigroup Admits Wrongdoing Over Blue Sheet Data
According to the SEC, for 15 years, Citigroup Global (C) markets provided the regulator with incomplete blue sheet data regarding trades that it executed. The coding error involved software that the firm used from 5/99 to 4/14 for processing the Commissions’ requests for the information, including data about trade times, prices, volume traded, and information identifying customers. As a result, Citigroup left out nearly 27,000 securities transactions in responses to over 2,300 blue sheet requests.

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Citibank (C) is the first U.S. bank to settle allegations of benchmark interest rate manipulation. To resolve the Commodities Futures Trading Commission claims that it manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rates (LIBOR), Citibank will pay $250M. It will pay $175M to resolve Euroyen Tibor and Yen Libor rigging claims. Also settling charges within this case are Citibank Japan Ltd (CJL) and Citigroup Global Markets Japan Inc. (CGMJ).

The CFTC claims that between ’07 and ‘12 Citigroup had specific traders input false information so their trading positions would benefit. It also claims that the bank’s affiliates issued false reports related to dollar Libor rates and ISDAFIX benchmark rates during the financial crisis so that its reputation would be protected.

Citigroup Global Markets Japan is charged with trying to rig Euroyen TIBOR and Yen LIBOR. Citibank Japan Ltd. is accused of engaging in false reporting related to the Euroyen TIBOR so that derivatives trading positions priced according to Euroyen TIBOR and Yen LIBOR would purportedly benefit.

Libor, along with the Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (Tibor), is what banks use to establish the cost of borrowing from one another. Libor is also used to set the rates on mortgages, credit cards, derivatives, and other financial products.

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