Leaked HSBC List Shows Who Was Banking on Swiss Secrecy (Bloomberg)
The private-banking unit of HSBC Holdings Plc made significant profits for years handling secret accounts for an array of criminals, from drug cartels and arms dealers to tax evaders and fugitive diamond merchants, according to a report released Sunday by an international news organization...Depositors included royal families and convicted cocaine dealers, ambassadors and terror suspects, entertainers and elected officials, corporate executives and athletes. To these and other clients, the bank actively promoted its accounts as an efficient way to hide assets from tax collectors, according to the report.
Brady Dougan’s Worst Month Puts Credit Suisse Dividend at Risk (Bloomberg)
A rise in the value of the Swiss franc following the central bank’s decision to let the currency trade freely, coupled with investor concern that the bank’s balance sheet isn’t strong enough and doubts about the CEO’s plan for the securities unit, pushed shares down 22 percent in January, the biggest monthly drop in Dougan’s tenure. Credit Suisse is the worst-performing European bank this year outside of Greece. Dougan, 55, is running out of options. He could follow competitors including UBS Group AG in making additional cuts to the investment bank as debt trading lags, shareholders say. To accelerate the buildup of capital, some are even willing to forfeit a dividend.
U.S. Banks Say Soaring Dollar Puts Them at Disadvantage (WSJ)
The strengthening U.S. dollar is rippling through the financial system in unexpected ways, revealing what bankers say is a hidden flaw in a Federal Reserve proposal to increase capital cushions at the nation’s largest banks. Big U.S. banks say that, under the rule proposed in December, the recent steep rise in the dollar’s value would force some U.S. firms to hold billions of dollars more in capital than foreign competitors, including weaker European banks, because of how the Fed plans to calculate a so-called surcharge levied on the eight most systemically important U.S. banks.
U.S. scrutiny of Barclays and UBS widens forex trading probe: FT (Reuters)
The agency is looking into whether the two banks sold so-called structured products without disclosing the profit they were making from currency trades used to generate the products' returns, according to the FT report, which cited people familiar with the investigation.
Principal used struggling school’s funds for private gym: source (NYP)
Principal Jazmine Santiago used school funds to install her own private gym with a bench press, pull-up bar, treadmill, elliptical machine and thigh exerciser on the third floor of PS 269 in Flatbush, sources told The Post. When some staffers questioned the expenditure, Santiago claimed she shares the equipment with older students, according to one source. But the underperforming school only goes through Grade 5, which would make the oldest students 11 years old and an average 4-foot-10 — not tall enough to reach some of the heavy-duty equipment...Staffers fumed that Santiago converted a storage room into her own private workout space in June 2014 with no consultation. “She comes in early, she goes to the gym. Even when class is in session, she’s still in the gym,” said another teacher. Both teachers declined to give their names for fear of reprisal. Teachers say the room is always locked and not accessible to other staff, much less students. “No, no, the kids have their own gym,” said the teacher. “Her gym is on the third floor and it’s her own personal gym.”
‘Crowd’ Sites Let Startups Tap Small Investors’ Cash (WSJ)
When Gil Penchina decided to invest $25,000 in Beepi Inc., a two-year-old online buyer and seller of used cars, he fired off an email asking other people if they wanted to get in on the deal. Within a day, he rounded up a total of $2.8 million from nearly 100 investors—and rejected 300 more. The 45-year-old Mr. Penchina isn’t a big-time venture capitalist. He is part of an emerging group of investors who negotiate with upstart companies to buy equity stakes that are sold through so-called crowdfunding on websites such as AngelList. The other investors rely on his due diligence, and he gets 15% of any investment profits eventually earned by the groups, known as syndicates, that he leads. The moves are a sign of the intense desire among small investors to try to cash in on the technology industry’s gold rush. Rather than wait for up-and-coming firms to go public, these investors are pouring money in much earlier, hoping for supersize returns if a company becomes a hit.
Berkshire Hathaway does a ‘poor’ job at disclosing financials (NYP)
Warren Buffett may be the world’s best investor — but he’s one of the worst when it comes to financial disclosure. That’s the consensus of long-suffering Wall Street analysts who follow Buffett’s $360 billion Berkshire Hathaway, the third-largest company on the US stock market. The analysts complained that the company reveals far less financial information than its peers, according to the Financial Times. The paper said it interviewed five of the six analysts who are tasked with trying to forecast results for the conglomerate, whose diverse businesses include insurance, railways, manufacturing, retail and newspapers, among others. When asked to describe Berkshire’s level of financial disclosure, their responses ranged from “limited” and “poor” to “terrible” and “laughable,” according to the report.
Greenspan Sees Greek Exit From Euro as Just a Matter of Time (Bloomberg)
Greece’s exit from the euro is just a matter of time because no one wants to risk lending money to the country any more, according to Alan Greenspan. Hours before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was due to set out plans on how to keep his government paying its bills, the former Federal Reserve chairman said the nation’s crisis can’t be resolved as long as it remains in the single currency. “I don’t see that it helps them to be in the euro and I certainly don’t see that it helps the rest of the euro zone,” Greenspan said in a radio interview with the BBC on Sunday. “I think it’s just a matter of time before everyone recognizes that parting is the best strategy.”
Morgan Stanley Aims to Sell Stake in Lansdowne Partners (WSJ)
The New York investment bank is looking to sell its 19% stake in the $17.5 billion London-based Lansdowne Partners LLP, according to people familiar with the matter.
Credit Suisse Plans Specialty Finance Company (WSJ)
Credit Suisse Group AG is launching a specialty finance company to invest in the unrated debt of small or midsize U.S. companies, following in the footsteps of rivals such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and a handful of private-equity giants. The company, Credit Suisse Park View BDC Inc., will be a type of tax-advantaged investment vehicle known as a business development company.
Dominatrix fears ‘Fifty Shades’ will hurt her business (NYP)
Lena Marquise, a 29-year-old dominatrix, is lounging in her apartment in a latex black mini-dress and Chanel stilettos. In front of her, a naked, 40-something accountant with skinny legs, thick-rimmed glasses and a potbelly is in the fetal position. Marquise nudges him with her 4-inch heel. “There is a pair of shoes behind me to the right,” she says. “They are covered in snow. Clean them off. With your tongue.” “Yes, mistress. Thank you, mistress,” he replies, as he crawls to the boots and begins licking them ravenously. Marquise, who goes by “Lady Wednesday,” smiles. She may not be smiling for long. “Fifty Shades of Grey” hits movie theaters Friday, and this Bushwick dominatrix fears business may suffer as a result. “It makes the taboo lessen,” she says. “To most dommes, this is detrimental to their sensuality, because, typically, clients, they thrive on the taboo nature of BDSM and fetishism.” Luckily, Marquise’s own at-home dungeon — complete with Japanese clover nipple clamps and enough taxidermy to outfit a Lower East Side bar — has taboo to spare. Marquise gets paid $350 to $500 an hour to gag, whip and punish her willing, all-male clientele. She estimates she makes between $20,000 to $50,000 a year. “I like to describe a session as training. It’s not abusing,” she says, encasing the nether regions of her client in a metal chastity belt from which she hung four heavy locks. “It’s sensual to some effect.” She says most of her “slaves” are “upper/middle management” married men seeking “everything from validation to stimulation.”