Articles Posted in UBS

UBS Financial Services Inc. (UBS) has agreed to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing the brokerage firm of not ensuring that certain charitable brokerage accounts and retail retirement accounts received the sales charge waivers or reduced fee share classes to which they were entitled when they purchased certain mutual funds. However, despite settling, including agreeing to pay a $3.5M penalty, the firm did not admit to or deny the SEC’s findings.

The regulator’s order states that from at least 1/2010 through 6/2015, UBS did not confirm certain customers’ eligibility to purchase from a less costly mutual fund share class and instead recommended that they buy more expensive ones. The customers that were affected purportedly did not have enough information at their disposal to understand that UBS had a conflict of interest when recommending the costlier share classes, such as Class A shares that came with an upfront sales fee and Class B/C shares that charged contingent deferred sales fees at the back-end plus came with costlier ongoing expenses and fees. All of the customers affected had been eligible to buy either no-load Class R shares or load-waved Class A shares.

As a result, claims the Commission, 15,250 customer accounts paid more than $18.5M in excess fees and expenses, upfront sales fees, and “contingent deferred sales charges.” Also, by selling investors the more expensive share classes, UBS earned higher compensations. The brokerage firm is accused of not disclosing to these customers that buying the costlier share classes would hurt their investments’ returns.

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In the US, federal prosecutors have filed a complaint against ex-UBS (UBS) trader Andre Flotron, charging him with commodities fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and spoofing. The latter is what they claim that he engaged in to rig the precious metal futures market. Spoofing involves issuing bids or offers that are deceptive to manipulate a market.

According to the criminal complaint, Flotron and co-conspirators engaged in the alleged spoofing scam from at least 7/2008 through at least 11/2013. He would submit a small sell order or buy order for a certain futures contract, which would be close in price to the current market price. Flotron would then put in an order at least 10 times bigger on the market’s opposite side before cancelling the bigger order seconds after at least part of the order he made originally was put through.

Flotron also is accused of teaching a young trader how to spoof. The trader, who spoofed on numerous occasions, struck a nonprosecution deal in which he agreed to share information about the alleged spoofing.

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In the UK, the US government is suing several banks over Libor rigging allegations in High Court. The defendants in the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) manipulation lawsuit include Deutsche Bank (DB), Barclays (BARC), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds Banking Group, UBS (UBS), Rabobank (RABO), and several other banks, in addition to the British Bankers Association.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s claim, the banks would engage in lowballing by turning in estimates that were artificially low when participating in the daily process to set the Libor rate. The US agency said that it is suing for 39 US banks, which were once collectively valued at over $400M, that failed after they depended on the US dollar denominated-Libor variant for derivative and other transactions. FDIC contends that the inaccurate figures submitted by the European banks caused the US banks to sustain massive losses.

It believes that if the Libor rate had been set honestly, the benchmark’s rate would would have been higher and these banks would have achieved higher prices and larger returns on different mortgages, loans, options, swaps, and other Libor-tied agreements. Instead, the plaintiffs allegedly colluded together to keep borrowing rates down to make it appear as if the banks were in more robust financial health than what was actual. The FDIC argued that the joint efforts of the banks and the British Bankers Association resulted in the “sustained and material suppression of Libor” from August 2007 through at least 2009.

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In the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, preliminary settlements have been submitted in which Deutsche Bank (DB) will pay $48.5M and Bank of America (BAC) will pay $17M to resolve investor lawsuits accusing them of manipulating the agency bond market for years. A judge must still approve the settlements.

Despite settling, both banks maintain they did not engage in any wrongdoing. The lead plaintiff investors include the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Plan of Northern California and the Iron Workers Pension Plan of Western Pennsylvania, and KBC Asset Management NV.

According to court papers and as reported by Reuters, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank are two of the 10 banks accused of rigging the $9 trillion agency bond market for supranational, sub-sovereign and agency bonds, also known as SSA bonds. The plaintiffs contend that from 2005 to 2015 the banks shared price information with one another, worked as a “super-desk” together, and allowed traders to coordinate strategies in the name of profit. Meantime, customers had to accept bond prices that were unfair to them.

UBS Group AG (UBS) has paid the National Credit Union Administration $445M to settle claims brought on behalf of Western Corporate Federal Credit Union and U.S. Central Federal Credit Union, which both failed after they sustained losses from residential mortgage-backed securities they purchased through the broker-dealer.The two credit unions went into conservatorship several years ago and have since shut down.

UBS settled this latest case without denying or admitting to wrongdoing. The lender had previously paid NCUA $79.3M to resolve similar allegations involving two other credit unions that also failed. With that settlement, the bank also did not deny or admit wrongdoing.

To date, NCUA has recovered nearly $5B in settlements from big banks related to the faulty securities that they sold to corporate credit unions.

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 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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Bloomberg reports that according to sources, Matt Gardiner, a former UBS Group AG (UBS) trader who was part of the instant-messaging group the federal government identified when obtaining guilty pleas from Barclays PLC (BARC), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), UBS, Citigroup (C), and JPMorgan Chase & Co.(JPM) over currency-rate manipulation, is working with prosecutors to pursue certain individuals over the rigging allegations. The Cartel chat room to which Gardiner belonged existed from at least 12/07 through 1/013.

According to prosecutors, traders who were part of the chat room communicated in code to share information about orders made by clients and to coordinate euro-dollar trades so that they could make more money. Having someone like Gardiner working with the government could help prosecutors understand what the traders were doing together. It’s unknown at this time whether his cooperation is part of a prosecution deal he may have reached.

His former firm, UBS, was granted immunity from antitrust charges because it was the first financial institution to report the market misconduct. Meantime, the banks whose traders were in the Cartel have turned over chat transcripts to the U.S. Department of Justice and foreign authorities. A lot of the chats occurred right before daily fixes, which is the short period of time when data providers are able to get a picture of trading in order to establish daily rates.

A FINRA arbitration panel has ordered Wells Fargo Advisors LLC (WFC) to pay UBS Financial Services Inc. $1.1M to resolve a claim involving financial adviser David Kinnear who went to work for the Wells Fargo & Co. brokerage arm after leaving the UBS Group AG (UBS) unit. UBS claims that Kinnear stole thousands of client and business records, as well as proprietary information, after resigning from the firm.

The Wall Street Journal reports that according to a source, Kinnear downloaded the data and distributed it to clients. UBS contends that the compensation Kinnear received at Wells Fargo was related to his ability to successfully bring UBS clients with him. UBS also claims that Kinnear owes it promissory notes.

Wells Fargo denies UBS’s allegations. It submitted a counterclaim accusing the firm of unfair completion, including preventing clients from moving from UBS to Wells Forgo.

Under the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, brokers are only allowed to bring the names and contact information of clients that they serviced while having worked at a firm when moving to another brokerage firm.

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Seven big banks have resolved a U.S. lawsuit accusing them of rigging ISDAFix rates, which is the benchmark for appraising interest rate derivatives, structured debt securities, and commercial real estate mortgages, for $324M. The banks that have reached a settlement are:

· Barclays PLS (BCS) for $30M (In 2015, Barclays paid $115M to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to resolve charges of ISDAfix rigging.)
· Bank of America Corp. (BAC) for $50M
· Credit Suisse Group AG (CS) for $50M
· Citigroup Inc. (C) for $42M
· JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) for $52M
· Deutsche Bank AG (DB) for $50M
· Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS) for $50M

The deal must be approved by a Manhattan federal court. The defendants had sought to have the case dismissed, but US District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan refused their request. stating that the case raised “plausible allegations” that the defendants were involved in a conspiracy together.

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UBS (UBS) is on trial in Manhattan federal court. According to Reuters, the civil case was brought by UBS Bancorp (USB) for three trusts. The trusts claim that in their contract with the Swiss banking giant, UBS agreed that the mortgages backing the securities would satisfy certain standards. However, they contend, when it became clear the mortgages were faulty, UBS would not repurchase them. Now, the trusts want back the $2.1B that they lost.

UBS’s legal defense team argued that the lawyers of the trust are assessing the loans from the perspective of “hindsight bias.” They want U.S. District Judge Kevin Catel to evaluate whether when the loans were considered defective at the time that they were issued in 2006 and 2007.

According to the mortgage-backed securities lawsuit, over 17,000 loans were pooled into three trusts, which issued securities granting investors the right to borrower-made payments. The problem was, contend the plaintiffs, over 9,600 of the loans were defective, primarily because of borrower fraud or because they did not meet underwriting requirements. The trusts believe that UBS did not properly vet the loans, which it obtained through shady lenders that would go on to fail.

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