Barclays bank and former bosses, charged with fraud, to stand trial in January 2019

John Varley, the former boss of Barclays, will stand trial alongside three former colleagues and the bank itself in January 2019, Southwark crown court was told on Monday.

Varley is charged along with Roger Jenkins, Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath over the way the bank raised billions of pounds from Qatar in 2008.

The four men sat alongside each other in the dock at Southwark crown court in London for their first appearance since the high-profile case was transferred there from Westminster magistrates’ court this month. They spoke to confirm their identities.

They are the first senior bankers to face criminal charges in relation to events dating back to the banking crisis almost a decade ago, when Barclays raised £11.8bn in emergency funds from a number of big investors, including Qatar.

Read on.

Pennsylvania AG’s new consumer financial protection unit’s watchdog is former CFPB enforcement lawyer

Housingwire:

According to Shapiro’s office, the state’s Consumer Financial Protection Unit will “focus on lenders that prey on seniors, families with students, and military service members, including for-profit colleges and mortgage and student loan servicers.”

While there is a serious push in Washington, D.C. to blunt, if not do away with the CFPB, Pennsylvania’s Consumer Financial Protection Unit will be led by one of the attorneys that helped found the agency.

According to Shapiro’s office, the state’s new financial watchdog will be run by Nicholas Smyth, who was the CFPB’s fourth employee and served as assistant director of the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (the precursor to the CFPB).

Smyth also helped draft the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act), which created the CFPB.

Mueller can pursue whatever crimes that are unrelated to the original Russia inquiry that he uncovers

DOJ order written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller as Special Counsel:

ORDER NO. 3915-2017
APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COUNSEL
TO INVESTIGATE RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE WITH THE
2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND RELATED MATTERS
By virtue of the authority vested in me as Acting Attorney General, including 28 U.S.C.
§§ 509, 510, and 515, in order to discharge my responsibility to provide supervision and
management of the Department of Justice, and to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the
Russian govemmenfs efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, I hereby order as
follows:
(a) Robert S. Mueller III is appointed t() serve as Specia] Counsel for the United States
Department of Justice.
(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confinned by then-FBI
Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:
(i) any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals
associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

Great article by The Atlantic:

President Trump is reportedly apoplectic over the possibility that Special Counsel Robert Mueller might look into his finances—specifically his tax returns—as part of Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump suggested in a New York Times interview that would constitute a possible “violation,” and according to the The Washington Post the president is already looking into whether he can pardon associates, family members, and himself.

But there are no legal or ethical reasons for Mueller to turn away if, during his investigation, he discovers crimes that are unrelated to the original inquiry.

“Mueller is the Department of Justice for the purposes of this investigation,” said John Q. Barrett, a former assistant counsel in the special prosecutor’s office during the Iran-Contra affair who is now a law professor at St. John’s University.

…………………………………………………….

Crucially, the order written by Rosenstein establishing the special-counsel investigation is very broad. It states that the special counsel is “authorized to conduct the investigation” that  includes “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

“The special counsel has to look into matters under his jurisdiction,” said Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general under the Obama administration and Georgetown Law professor who wrote the special-counsel regulations. “So if Trump family financial matters are relevant to the Russia investigation, he would have to look into them. And the regulations do not permit the president to define the scope of the investigation.”

Depending on whether what Mueller discovered was closely related to the original investigation, he might have to consult with Rosenstein before going further. But there are no legal or ethical bars to him pursuing the investigation wherever it leads.

“I think that that’s fairly broad as a conferral of jurisdiction,” said Barrett. “If in the course of doing investigation A, you find leads or evidence to crime B, ordinary federal law-enforcement jurisdiction is yours. After consultation with supervision, which I guess would be Rosenstein, you expand into the new area, depending on its significance.”

Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan to pay $148 million to end yen Libor cases in U.S.

Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co have agreed to pay a combined $148 million (114 million pounds) to end private U.S. antitrust litigation claiming they conspired with other banks to manipulate the yen Libor and Euroyen Tibor benchmark interest rates.

The preliminary settlements, totalling $77 million for Deutsche Bank and $71 million for JPMorgan, were detailed in filings late Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and require a judge’s approval.

They followed similar settlements last year with Citigroup Inc and HSBC Holdings Plc totalling $23 million and $35 million, respectively.

Read on.

U.S. prosecutors to drop criminal charges in JP Morgan ‘London Whale’ case

U.S. prosecutors have decided to drop criminal charges against two former JPMorgan Chase & Co derivatives traders implicated in the “London Whale” trading scandal that caused $6.2 billion (5 billion pounds) of losses in 2012.

In seeking the dismissal of charges against Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout, the Department of Justice said it “no longer believes that it can rely on the testimony” of Bruno Iksil, a cooperating witness who had been dubbed the London Whale, based on recent statements he made that hurt the case.

Prosecutors also said efforts to extradite Martin-Artajo and Grout, respectively citizens of Spain and France, to face the charges have been “unsuccessful or deemed futile.”

Read on

Deutsche Bank expects subpoenas over Trump-Russia investigation

Executives inside Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump’s personal bankers, are expecting that the bank will soon be receiving subpoenas or other requests for information from Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

A person close to the matter who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity said Mueller’s team and the bank had already established informal contact in connection to the federal investigation.

Read on.

MORE TRUMP POPULISM: HIRING A BANK LAWYER TO ATTACK CFPB BANK RULES

The Intercept:

PRESIDENT TRUMP AND Republicans in Congress have broadcast their every intention to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The president’s budget attempted to defund it and leading Republicans have called for its director to be fired and replaced with a more Wall Street-compliant regulator.

But much like the bulk of Trump’s agenda, that assault remains in the aspirational phase, and the agency continues to do its work. Earlier this month, the CFPB released a major new rule, flat-out barring financial institutions from using forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts to stop class-action lawsuits.

Now, Trump has sent out his lead attack dog to overturn the arbitration rule — a former bank lawyer who has used the very tactic the CFPB wants to prevent.

Class-action lawsuits are often the only way abusive behavior is checked. Take one of the more flagrant examples relating to overdraft fees. Millions of Americans are painfully familiar with the little perforated postcard that kindly arrives in the mail, courtesy of your financial institution, informing you that you have overdrawn your bank account and have been assessed a fee. Or, sometimes, you get three of them in the mail.

In order to make sure you get three and not one, banks in the past would re-order your transactions. The case of Gutierrez v. Wells Fargo is instructive here: a federal class-action case in California, the suit charged the bank with debit card reordering, or altering the sequence of debit card withdrawals to maximize overdraft fees. So if a cardholder with $100 in their account made successive withdrawals of $20, $30, and $110 over the course of a day, instead of getting hit with one $35 overdraft fee, Wells Fargo would reorder the transactions from high to low, thus earning three fees.

The plaintiffs won a $203 million judgment in 2010. But in an appeal before the 9th Circuit in 2012, Wells’ lawyers argued that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2011, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, gave Wells Fargo the right to compel arbitration and quash the case, even after the judgment was rendered.

The 9th Circuit ruled that Wells Fargo never requested or even mentioned arbitration for five years of litigating the case. Only after losing in court and getting a potential lifeline from the Supreme Court did the lawyers take the shot. “Ordering arbitration would … be inconsistent with the parties’ agreement, and contradict their conduct throughout the litigation,” the court ruled.

Wells Fargo eventually paid California customers, but only after six years of appeals. Yet the company is still trying to use arbitration to quash a similar class action on overdraft fees, which would affect consumers in the other 49 states. Over 30 banks have been sued for this conduct, and every one of them settled the case except Wells Fargo.

Banks have a lot riding on the CFPB rule. Luckily for Wells Fargo, a former senior attorney of theirs is now a top federal regulator. In fact, Keith Noreika worked on that class-action defense in Gutierrez v. Wells Fargo before becoming the acting chair of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

In May, President Trump hired Noreika to take over OCC, in an unusual arrangement where he would serve as a “special government employee,” retained to perform “temporary duties” for not more than 130 days, and exempt from most ethics rules or Senate confirmation.

His first high-profile move is to insert himself into the CFPB rule-making process, the bureaucratic equivalent of laying down in the street in front of the bus.

Right before the CFPB released its final arbitration rule, Noreika charged in a letter that the rule could create “safety and soundness concerns.” On Monday, Noreika asked the CFPB to delay publishing the rule in the Federal Register until OCC could review it for safety and soundness concerns. Essentially, Noreika is saying that allowing consumers to band together to stop petty theft by banks threatens the ability of those banks to survive. The CFPB already sent the rule to the Federal Register, and called Noreika’s request “plainly frivolous.”

Noreika threatened to use Section 1023 of Dodd-Frank, which allows the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), composed of the major bank regulators, to halt CFPB rules if they put the safety, soundness, or stability of the banking system at risk. The chair of the FSOC, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, could stay the rule for 90 days pending a vote of the 10-member council. Seven votes would be needed to set aside the rule.