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Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.59.42 PMTiffany & Co and the would-be recipients of your generosity are hurting, too. Read more »

That's OK, as long as you get me the fuck out of here.John Roberts & co. may yet spring Rajat Gupta from the hoosegow, but even if it does, it won’t let him start collecting board checks again. Read more »

Glory days!Chase Coleman must really like how he looked during his collegiate days, because he’s made sure that’s one of basically two pictures of him that exist for public consumption. While Dan Loeb and Steve Cohen spend their ample disposable income on art, Chase and a few other far-sighted peers prefer to spend theirs on mugs of themselves. Read more »

Opening Bell: 1.12.15

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 9.54.35 AMWall Street workers shouldn’t be too excited for bonus season (NYP)
After a year of record fines, sluggish trading and low interest rates, bankers hoping for richer payouts should prepare to be disappointed when bonus season gets underway next week. By most estimates, the pool of money set aside for Wall Street workers is expected to be flat with the previous year, when the industry took home $16.7 billion, or an average of $164,530 per person. Last year, big banks were slammed by billions in fines and penalties — Bank of America paid the largest fine ever for a single company, $16.7 billion — for offenses ranging from toxic mortgage securities to money laundering to tax evasion. “The fines have come to roost,” said Michael Karp, CEO and co-founder of headhunting firm Options Group. “The bonus pool and compensation are the most vulnerable for banks to make up the shortfall.”

Banking bonuses set to disappoint in City and on Wall Street (FT)
Bankers on both sides of the Atlantic are fighting over a diminished bonus pool this year, according to executives. In the UK, most investment banks expect to see bonuses fall after a tough year, but are still braced for political sensitivities over the topic given the looming general election. At US banks, several of which report results this week, payouts are also set to fall. Traders can expect the worst declines after a weak fourth quarter. Citigroup decided last week that the bonus pool for traders would fall about 5-10 per cent, according to people familiar with the matter, after earlier pledging to hold it flat. Citi’s advisory bankers can expect a modest increase. One finance officer at a large Wall Street bank said it had been difficult to satisfy the warring parties: mergers and acquisitions and equity underwriting enjoyed a good year but these advisory bankers never suffered the same bonus cuts as traders so they should not expect a big rebound in payouts.

Paulson Event-Driven Fund Said to End Last Year Down 36% (Bloomberg)
Billionaire John Paulson posted the second-worst trading year of his career in 2014 as a wrong-way energy bet added to declines tied to a failed merger and investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The worst performance was in the Advantage Plus fund, which plummeted 36 percent last year, two people with knowledge of the returns said. The event-driven strategy, which uses leverage to make bets on companies undergoing transformations such as spinoffs and bankruptcies, lost 3.1 percent in December, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The 59-year-old manager also lost money in a credit pool and barely broke even in a fund that bets on company mergers.

Lax Morgan Stanley security has some blame in data leak, too (NYP)
Former Morgan Stanley adviser Galen Marsh — who was fired by the investment bank, accused of brazenly stealing an encyclopedia full of client data and then selling it online — still professes his innocence, but pros say the bank should not get off so easy. Dumbfounded cyber-security experts and financial execs contend that Morgan will need a good defense. Early “evidence” that Marsh stole and posted 900 pieces of client data for sale late last month for 78,000 electronic speedcoins on controversial Web site Pastebin is laughable, they say.

Former MIT professor ‘robs bank,’ films ‘heist’ (NYP)
Joseph Gibbons, 61, a filmmaker and “visual artist’’ who taught for a decade at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, has gone rogue, robbing banks as part of his latest “art’’ project. Gibbons was charged on Friday with robbery after allegedly making off with $1,000 from a Capital One branch at Bowery and Grand Street in Chinatown. While waiting for his arraignment, the eccentric academic boasted to fellow inmates that his crime was for art’s sake. “He was doing research for a film,” said his dazzled cell-mate Kaylan Sherrard, 27. “It’s not a crime; it’s artwork… He’s an intellectual,” Sherrard gushed. In former interviews, Gibbons has admitted to using illegal drugs to inspire his short, semi-autobiographical films. Read more »

Write-Offs: 1.9.15

$$$ Fitch Cuts Russia to Step Above Junk on Oil Drop, Sanctions [Bloomberg]

$$$ Hackers Release Swiss Bank Data Over $12K Unpaid Ransom [Bloomberg]

$$$ Fed’s Bond Buying Yields Bonanza for Treasury [WSJ]

$$$ Romney Tells Donors He’s Mulling A Presidential Bid [Bloomberg]

$$$ An 18-year-old in Clydebank, Scotland, is facing three assault charges after allegedly chucking uncooked potatoes from a car at passing pedestrians, the Clydebank Post reported Wednesday. [HP] Read more »

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Always thinkin'But otherwise, he and the board are totally clear on everything. Read more »

alex1Remember Alex Pope? British guy, about yea high? Made headlines a couple years ago when he dropped £125,000 on one bottle of champagne at a Liverpool nightclub? Was arrested shortly thereafter “on suspicion of being involved in an unauthorised foreign exchange trading scheme”? Yeah, he was found guilty/is probably going to prison. Read more »

1322764Bear_StearnsEd. note: This is a weekly column by Elie Mystal, Managing Editor of Above the Law Redline, wrapping up the week that was in law and finance. Elie is not a practicing attorney, and anything he says that you listen to can and will be used against you.

Maybe It’s The DOJ That’s Asking For A Bribe?

The law firm Gibson Dunn reported that companies paid a record amount of fines for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Firms paid an average of $157 million to settle FCPA investigations.

If I was sipping cocktails with Avery Tolar on Grand Cayman, I’d tell him that I think the FCPA is borderline idiotic. There are countries out there where you can’t do business without greasing somebody’s wheels, but we’re going to fine our business for accepting that reality? When in Rome, the dude abides.

But, in these globalized times, it’s probably unworkable to abandon the FCPA. Bribes are bad, theoretically, and you shouldn’t get an advantage just because your illicit envelope is fatter than the other guy’s. Except, that’s precisely the kind of regime the DOJ has set up. The Gibson Dunn reports says that the government took the money… I mean “settlements,” but states “External compliance monitors were not imposed for the duration of a deferred-prosecution agreement as a part of any bribery settlements last year.” Read more »