JPMorgan Assailed by Russia as Bank Blocks Payment (Bloomberg)
The biggest U.S. bank thwarted a remittance from the Russian embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, to Sogaz Insurance Group “under the pretext of anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the United States,” the ministry said yesterday in a statement on its website. Sogaz lists OAO Bank Rossiya, a St. Petersburg-based lender facing U.S. sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis, as a strategic partner on its website. Interfering with the transaction was an “absolutely unacceptable, illegal and absurd decision,” Alexander Lukashevich, a ministry spokesman, said in the statement.
Virtu Said to Delay IPO Amid Furor Spurred by Michael Lewis Book (Bloomberg)
Virtu Financial Inc., the high-frequency trader that announced plans last month to sell shares, has delayed the deal, two people with knowledge of the matter said. Virtu’s bankers won’t start marketing the initial public offering until after April 20, delaying the process from this week, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the decision is private. The delay comes amid unprecedented scrutiny of high-frequency traders. “Flash Boys,” the Michael Lewis book released yesterday, argues that high-speed traders, Wall Street brokerages and exchanges have rigged the $23 trillion U.S. stock market. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is examining privileges such as enhanced data feeds marketed to high-speed firms, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether those traders are breaking U.S. laws by acting on nonpublic information.
SEC Investigations Into High-Frequency Trading Under Way (WSJ)
U.S. securities regulators are examining whether some rapid-fire trading firms are engaged in unlawful trading practices, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White said Tuesday. Ms. White, testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee, said the SEC currently has “a number” of ongoing investigations regarding “market integrity and structure issues, including high-frequency traders.” She declined to provide specifics about the investigations, but said they have been under way for “quite some time.” “We’re very much focused on any abuses in that space,” she said.
High-Frequency Hyperbole, By Cliff Asness (WSJ)
A few nights ago, CBS’s “60 Minutes” provided a forum for author Michael Lewis to announce that Wall Street is “rigged” and for the sponsors of a new trading venue called IEX to promise to unrig it. The focus of the TV segment was high-frequency trading, or HFT, an innovation now over 20 years old. The stock market isn’t rigged and IEX hasn’t yet generated a lot of interest. In our profession, what we saw on “60 Minutes” is called “talking your book”—in Mr. Lewis’s case, literally.
Bitcoins aren’t cash, so Silk Road creator’s clean: lawyer (NYP)
In papers seeking to dismiss the feds’ case against Ross Ulbricht, lawyer Joshua Dratel said the IRS recently ruled Bitcoin is property – and not a “monetary instrument” – so the money laundering charges against his client should be tossed. “Bitcoins, the exclusive means of payment on Silk Road, do not qualify as ‘monetary instruments,’ and therefore cannot serve as the basis for a money laundering violation,” Dratel wrote.
French artist starts fortnight inside bear (BBC)
Abraham Poincheval first performed Dans La Peau de l’Ours – Inside the Skin of the Bear – at the CAIRN Centre for Contemporary Art in Digne last year. He is now reprising the piece at the Hunting and Wildlife Museum in Paris, where he will remain until 13 April. Poincheval previously spent a week in an underground hole beneath a bookshop in Marseilles in October 2012. According to the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, Poincheval is a performance artist “familiar with extreme situations”. The performance piece will see him eat, drink, sleep and relieve himself inside the sterilised carcass of a bear while being filmed by two cameras.
Wall Street Cuts Swaps Exposure (WSJ)
Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG are among the banks that have stepped up efforts to reduce their piles of derivatives. In January, Morgan Stanley executives said a push to cut its exposures and shed riskier assets would add 0.3 to 0.4 percentage point to a leverage ratio it expects to exceed 5% by 2015. The firm’s ratio stood at about 4.2% at the end of 2013.
Goldman Said to Pursue Sale of NYSE Market-Making Unit (Bloomberg)
IMC Financial Markets is negotiating to buy the floor-trading business, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity because talks are private. Goldman Sachs is seeking as much as $30 million, one person said. The investment bank, which joined the NYSE in 1896, bought the operations in 2000 as part of a $5.4 billion purchase of Spear, Leeds & Kellogg.
Wells Fargo Names New C.F.O. (Dealbook)
Wells Fargo reshuffled some its top executives on Tuesday, naming a new chief financial officer and a new head of wholesale banking. Timothy J. Sloan, 53, is leaving the C.F.O. post to head Wells Fargo’s wholesale banking group, which includes range of businesses like middle market commercial lending and international banking. The bank named John R. Shrewsberry, 48, currently head of Wells Fargo Securities, as the new chief financial officer.
Fairbanks campus priest charged with DUI, drugs and weapons (Newsminer)
Thomson was driving a blue 2002 GMC Sierra pickup truck that was weaving, crossing the center line and speeding 79 mph in a 65 zone, trooper Christopher Bitz wrote in the criminal complaint. Bitz said Thomson seemed disoriented and produced a receipt when asked for his vehicle registration. Asked if he had any weapons, Thomson mentioned a .357 in the back seat but neglected to mention a 9mm pistol in his back pocket, Bitz said. Thomson had a bag with a small quantity of marijuana in the pocket of his hoodie sweatshirt, Bitz said. Thomson registered a breath-alcohol content of 0.247 on a handheld preliminary breath alcohol test machine. That figure is three times the 0.08 level that is one legal standard for intoxication. At the Healy trooper post Thomson refused to take a more-accurate Datamaster test because “(he) said he was drunk and did not feel the test was necessary,” Bitz said.