Expect corruption crackdown to widen, intensify

Companies and financial firms that are potentially subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption regimes should expect more of the enforcement crackdown they have seen in recent years, except in greater quantity and intensity, two former U.S. government officials said last week.

The ex-officials, Cheryl Scarboro, a law partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Greg Andres, a partner at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, respectively headed the Securities and Exchange Commission Enforcement Division FCPA unit and the Department of Justice Criminal Division fraud section. They spoke at an FCPA and anti-corruption seminar at the New York City Bar Association. (more…)

The JOBS Act at age two – prodigy or enfant terrible?

The JOBS Act at age two – prodigy or enfant terrible?

The financial services industry is still getting used to the two-year old JOBS Act, as funds gingerly begin to explore new general-solicitation freedoms and “crowdfunding” venues sort through the rules, speakers said at a Fordham Law School forum in New York.

As mandated by the JOBS – or Jumpstart Our Business Startups – Act enacted in April 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission has adopted rules for general solicitations that became effective in September 2013, and is reviewing comments to a December 2013 set of proposed crowd-funding rules.

General solicitations (more…)

“Big data” tools will improve regulatory oversight, FINRA’s di Florio says

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is developing a suite of “big data” information sources and analytics to improve regulatory oversight of securities firms, according to Carlo di Florio, FINRA’s chief risk officer and head of strategy.

Leveraging technology and analytics can make for a “unique moment in regulation [that lets regulators] see things they couldn’t have seen or understood as well before,” di Florio said at an event this week hosted by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association compliance and legal society. (more…)

New York bills would protect compliance ‘good guys’ who stick their necks out

Two New York legislators are pushing a bill that would protect workers in financial services and other sectors from getting fired if they stick their necks out to report wrongdoing.

The lawmakers, Senator Diane Savino of Brooklyn and Staten Island and Assemblyman Tom Abinanti of Westchester County, want to undo the effect of a ruling by New York’s top judges held that the chief compliance officer of an investment adviser and hedge fund manager had no legal recourse after being fired for internally raising concerns over company practices. (more…)

U.S. regulators urge firms to improve business continuity and disaster recovery plans

Futures and securities firms should review their industry-wide and internal business continuity and disaster recovery plans to improve responsiveness to significant disruptions and reduce recovery time, their regulators said Friday in a staff advisory.

U.S. regulators have been particularly concerned over how financial firms plan for disasters since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and through the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets during the administration of George W. Bush urged the industry to strengthen its defenses. The concerns have included flooding following Hurricane Katrina and the threat of an influenza pandemic, and are growing. (more…)

AML reports a key tool for analyzing “21st century crime scene,” New York prosecutors say

The suspicious-activity reports and other filings submitted by anti-money laundering officers are quite unlike a child’s letters to Santa Claus — they can be assured of an audience, Manhattan’s top local prosecutor and top staffers told reporters last week.

New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said his staff is continuing the war Bob Morgenthau, his predecessor, waged against the usual focus of AML efforts – drugs, fraud, taxes and terrorism – but they are using new tools and methods to fight emerging criminal threats as well as lower-level “street crime.” (more…)

No bank is ‘too big to jail,’ U.S. Attorney General Holder warns

Corruption, cyber threats and transnational organized crime – and the money laundering that greases the wheels of illicit commerce – are high on the list of law enforcement priorities, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The list also includes preventing and combatting violent crime, confronting national security threats, ensuring civil rights, “safeguard[ing] the most vulnerable members of our society” and increasing the vigilance against terrorism, Holder said. (more…)

ACCELUS SUMMIT: FATCA compliance is a manageable challenge, but deadlines loom

A U.S. law to improve tax compliance by U.S. taxpayers with foreign financial assets is creating confusion for foreign financial institutions that must cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service to help enforce the law.

The law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, requires U.S. taxpayers with certain foreign financial assets and offshore accounts to report the assets to the Internal Revenue Service.  (more…)

FINRA sanction of broker over private placement-marketing materials offers guidance as JOBS Act takes hold

An enforcement agreement between the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and broker-dealer MD Sass Securities offers guidance on what disclosures FINRA will look for when examining brokers engaged in the private placement of securities, especially for affiliated entities.

This guidance may be particularly appropriate for offerings under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act, which relaxes rules for emerging-company capital raising. Some of the startups are expected to raise capital through private placements, in many cases with the investment bank also engaged in selling the investments. (more…)

U.S. class-action securities settlements fewer but more costly in 2012 after IPO slump, credit crisis; Libor looms

Court-approved securities class action settlements reported in 2012 were at a 14-year low and 18 percent fewer than in 2011 but they cost defendants twice as much as the prior year, a report released Wednesday said.

The study by the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse and Cornerstone Research associated settlement values with factors including the presence of enforcement actions related to the lawsuits. This may hold clues to the outcomes in recently litigation over alleged manipulation of the global lending benchmark LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate.  (more…)