Joe Landes and Bobby de Groot know what we’re talking about. Read more »
Bank Of America, BNP Paribas Give Forex Traders A Moment To Think About What They May Or May Not Have DoneBy Bess Levin
Deutsche Bank has concluded co-Chief Executive Anshu Jain is clean after an internal investigation into the role of the bank into the manipulation of global interest rates, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported. Citing supervisory board sources, the paper reported that the internal probe had cleared Jain of involvement in the Libor scandal after scrutinizing bank documents and interviewing hundreds of Deutsche Bank employees. [Reuters]
In its latest corporate confession, the nation’s biggest bank disclosed that it’s facing more than a dozen civil and criminal investigations into its virtually every aspect of its business. Beyond the infamous “London Whale” debacle, the bank is also being investigated over mortgage-bond sales, improper foreclosure practices, interest-rate rigging and power market manipulation, according to JPMorgan’s latest quarterly filing with regulators. Although the bank didn’t reveal any new investigations, taken together they underscore the multitude of legal and regulatory challenges confronting JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon. Indeed, earlier this month JPMorgan took the unusual step of disclosing that it had set aside a whopping $23 billion to tackle potential legal problems…Despite the wide-ranging issues, JPMorgan officials believe the bank is finally making headway on its raft of legal and regulatory woes after years of wrangling, according to sources. [NYP]
Half of today’s financial news stories are about how some government enforcement agency is looking into something you already knew about. This is very boring for me! Remember when Goldman lost a bunch of money by fat-fingering some options trades?1 That still happened. Remember how JPMorgan did some naughty things with California electricity markets? Those historical circumstances continue to obtain. Remember the Whale? Still a thing.
You could wonder about the substance of some of these investigations. JPMorgan’s electric boogaloo, while intensely naughty, also seems pretty clearly to have followed FERC/ISO rules to the letter, so it’s hard to imagine charging anyone with a crime, as the FBI is apparently contemplating.2 And while I don’t know much about the SEC rules re: electronic options trading, the actual thing that Goldman did was sell options really cheaply, and it would be pretty weird if there were a rule against that, so I don’t know where the SEC is going with its enforcement investigation.3 (The Whale, I’ll give you, that stuff seems bad.) But basically, yeah, sure: bad things happened, rules might have been violated, market safeguards were shown to be less robust than had previously been thought, it is altogether fitting and proper that someone look into it. Or a lot of someones I guess.
Still the stories carry a whiff of looking for the keys under the lamppost: Read more »
SAC Capital Will No Longer Provide Investors With Updates On Its Unconditional Cooperation With The Government’s Investigation, Which Oh, By The Way, Ain’t So Unconditional AnymoreBy Bess Levin
SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge fund owned by the billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen, told its investors on Friday that it was no longer cooperating unconditionally with the government’s insider trading investigation. “In the past we have tried to be as transparent with you as possible about the state of the investigation while balancing our desire for transparency with the need to keep the details of a sensitive investigation confidential,” said the letter. “While we have in the past told you of our cooperation with the government’s investigation our cooperation is no longer unconditional and we do not intend to give updates in this area going forward.” [Dealbook]
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority accused Washington-based Success Trade Securities and its 45-year-old founder, Fuad Ahmed, of lying to 58 investors — most of them current and former NFL and NBA players — about how he planned to use their money. Ahmed sold $18 million in promissory notes to investors without telling them how he was spending it, including a $1,300-a-month lease for his Range Rover and an $82,000 interest-free loan for his brother, according to a complaint. Finra slapped the securities firm with a temporary cease-and-desist order while it investigates. [NYP]
House Subcommittee Has Some Suggestions For The Next Time Jon Corzine Runs A Financial Services CompanyBy Matt Levine
This House Financial Services investigations subcommittee hatchet job on MF Global is, I don’t know, pretty reasonable and not-that-hatchety? It’s 100 pages and not exactly full of new news, but it’s a good read, stuff happens, there’s a clear story arc, heros and villains (kidding, just villains), you’re in suspense until the end. There’s some law of narrative that demands that every financial disaster be a parable for something, and the Fall of the House of Corzine obliges nicely. It reads like the sort of fairy tale where three whatevers come to the guy and tell him “repent repent a thing will happen” and each time he’s like “naaaah” but the third time the thing happens and he’s all “huh, wish I’d repented.”
The thing that was going to happen – which has the benefit of being inevitable in this report though I guess maybe not in real time – was that MF Global’s inventory of fairly short-dated peripheral Eurozone sovereign bonds, which it had bought and then financed via repo-to-maturity transactions, were going to be the death of it. And people kept telling Corzine that and he was all “I SAID NAAAAAH.” And then they were the death of it.
The first people who told him were his auditors at PwC in late 2010, who were troubled by how MF Global was accounting for the repos-to-maturity.1 The RTMs were accounted for as a sale plus a derivative purchase liability; the forward was required to be marked to market but MF Global used its own models to determine that the mark-to-market was so small as to be immaterial because Corzine was pretty sure the chances of default were low. PwC were unamused and advocated a mark-to-market that marked more to the actual market.