FYI, Your Window Of Opportunity To Set Up Shop In The South In Order To Commit Fraud Without Getting Caught Is Closed

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To avoid hotel costs, some S.E.C. investigators have shuttled between New York and Washington on Amtrak trains that leave around dawn and return the same day. The agency only recently started to again examine investment firms and public companies in some Southern states, after postponing reviews to avoid paying for plane fares. [Dealbook]

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Banks Now Trying Extra Hard To Avoid Making The Rookie Mistakes That Mean Getting Caught Committing Fraud

Remember, earlier this summer, when a whole bunch of banks were sued over allegations their employees manipulated Libor? And Bob Diamond, CEO of the first, and so far only, bank to settle with regulators, lost his job, as did a bunch of his colleagues? And it was suggested that Barclays's offenses were but a drop in the bucket compared with those of UBS? And experts projected that this whole thing could cost the banks being investigated (of which there are many) tens of billions of dollars to make go away? And Nellie Diamond stopped Tweeting? As much fun as that's all been, a lot of firms would like to avoid going through it again, and to that end, have asked their compliance teams to run some workshops teaching employees how to keep things on the straight and narrow. For instance, while you might think that people would have mastered email by this point on the evolutionary chart-- specifically, that it never goes away and might be read again-- you would think wrong!  So the point is being hammered home in remedial electronic correspondence classes, particularly to those who'd previously not seen an issue with writing stuff like, "Anything for you, Big Boy" as a response to the request "Can you manipulate Libor for me today when you've a sec?" Also on the schedule-- mock happy hours with the team for members of the staff who can never seem to remember the appropriate response for when you're out at Punch Tavern and someone brings up "Holly with the cans who did me a solid by shaving 45 basis points off our submission." "Everyone is more paranoid, that's for sure," said one department head at a European investment bank, where the trading floor is festooned with posters reminding staff to report any suspicious behaviour. At his bank and at least one other European firm, executives said they were being asked to take part in an increasing number of behavioural coaching sessions, including simulations of pub outings. These were mainly done via webcasts, where participants act out conversations with colleagues where the talk turns to clients or office gossip, two bankers said. "You have to turn around and say, 'No, let's not talk about that'," said one. Culture Clean Up Follows Bankers To Bar [Reuters]

Appellate Court Willing to Entertain the Possibility that Citi Was Not Committing Fraud

I've had some fun these last few days proposing counterintuitive theories for why Citi might not suck as much as you probably think it does and it's nice to see others joining in the pastime, even if this sounds a little far-fetched: The district court’s logic appears to overlook the possibilities (i) that Citigroup might well not consent to settle on a basis that requires it to admit liability, (ii) that the S.E.C. might fail to win a judgment at trial, and (iii) that Citigroup perhaps did not mislead investors. That piece of rank conjecture is from the Second Circuit's opinion on an appeal* of Judge Rakoff's rejection of the settlement between the SEC and Citi over some mortgage-backed securities. Here's DealBook:

The Bar Has Been Set For Lengths Gone To In Order To Secure Seed Capital

[caption id="attachment_77416" align="alignleft" width="260" caption="Home?"][/caption] Want to get in shape? Want to save money? Want to impress industry execs with your problem solving skills and can-do attitude? Want to hole up and pound out a business plan for the [hedge fund/private equity firm/boutique investment bank/whathaveyou] you want to get off the ground? What if we told you there was a foolproof way to accomplish all those goals and more, that it wouldn't cost you a thing, that you might even have some fun doing it, and that there'd be free cereal and Coke involved? Would that sound like something you'd be interested in? Then, congratulations, you're already halfway there. Step 1 was getting on board, Step 2 is choosing the investment bank or asset management firm that's lax on night security and moving in. Eric Simons wanted to get straight into the thick of it, so after high school, and a short period crashing on couches with friends at the University of Illinois, Simons accepted a slot in the inaugural class of Imagine K12, a new Silicon Valley incubator focused entirely on education. His plan? Start a company that builds tools allowing teachers to create and discover lesson plans, and share them with students and teachers...But his initial idea wasn't quite working. Imagine K12 was a great place to get mentorship and learn how startups are built, but he and his ClassConnect partners had been given just $20,000 by the incubator, and after the four-month program ended, the money was gone. When his friends left to go back to college, Simons needed another solution. Imagine K12 is hosted at AOL's Palo Alto campus, and everyone involved gets a building badge. As it turns out, Simons told CNET, the badges kept working, even after the program ended, giving him ongoing access, along with a face that had become familiar to others who worked there. "I couldn't afford to live anywhere," Simons recalled. "I started living out of AOL's headquarters." For someone with neither money nor an aversion to sleeping on others' couches, the AOL building had plenty of allure. "They had a gym there with showers," Simons said. "I'd take a shower after work. I was like, 'I could totally work here...They have food upstairs, they have every drink on tap. This would be a sweet place to live.'" Note that Simons said he would work there. After his four months in the incubator, he was used to toiling away at ClassConnect inside the building, and with other programs, from the Stanford-focused incubator StartX to AOL's own First Floor Labs also taking up space there, there was no shortage of non-AOL employees shuffling in and out all the time. But Simons was intent on launching his startup, so why not find a desk and pound away for 12 to 16 hours a day? "There were so many people going in and out each day," he said. "They'd say, 'Oh, he just works, here, he's working late every night. Wow, what a hard worker.'" Having spent several months legitimately working in the building, often quite late, Simons had noticed that although there were security guards with nightly rounds, there were at least three couches that seemed outside those patrols. Plus, they looked fairly comfortable. He claimed them. This was his routine: He'd work until midnight or later, and then fall asleep around 2 a.m. on one of the couches. At 7 a.m. -- and no later than 8 a.m. so he'd be safely out of his field bed before anyone else arrived -- he'd wake up, go down to the gym for a workout and a shower, and then go back upstairs and scarf a breakfast of cereal and water or Coke. Then he'd work all day, finally waiting until everyone else in the building had gone home before returning to one of his three favored couches. "I got a really good work ethic," he said, "and I got in shape, since I had to work out every morning." Simons could probably have crashed elsewhere, but he wanted to see how long he could make the AOL squatting work. Some friends knew what he was doing, and they thought it was funny. But no one helped him, other than a couple buddies who discussed strategies with him on how to evade security. And then came that fateful morning with the 6 a.m. yelling. "One of the guys who manages the building came in at like 5 or 6 in the morning," Simons lamented, "and he scoured the entire place to find me. And he ripped me a new one. He was pissed that I was treating it like a dorm. Which was reasonable." No one called the police, Simons "continues to go to the AOL building for meetings to this day," and a venture capitalist, Paul Sherer, threw some seed money Simons' way, based on the fact that the guy lived out of the place. ("Tenacity and commitment are key attributes of a great entrepreneur," Sherer said. "Eric has these in spades as demonstrated by his willingness to do whatever it takes to get his company off the ground.") This could be you. Meet The Tireless Entrepreneur Who Squatted At AOL [CNET]