Daily Archives: July 20, 2016

Trump campaign still weighing Glass-Steagall

While the Republican Party has made the return of Glass-Seagall part of its official platform, Donald Trump‘s national finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, told CNBC on Wednesday the campaign hasn’t decided yet if it will support the plan.

The Depression-era legislation, which was designed to prevent big bank “supermarkets,” would essentially break up many of the large institutions. News of the GOP’s call to reinstate the law, which was repealed in 1999, has made many on Wall Street unhappy.

“We’re not taking a position on whether we support that or don’t support it. We’re saying a lot of things need to be looked at. We think Dodd-Frank needs to be looked at. Obviously there is an important concern of protecting depositors,” Mnuchin said in an interview with “Power Lunch.”

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Wall Street is running out of jobs to cut — so it’s cutting pay

Running out of jobs to cut??? Start with some of the Wall Street execs that are repeated offenders of crimes need to have their pay cut.

Wall Street’s top bankers are getting their pay slashed, but at least they’re keeping their jobs.

Investment banks cut pay to begin the year, when a disastrous first quarter hampered earnings. But now, even as markets and bank performance rebound — Morgan Stanley on Wednesday morning became the latest major Wall Street firm to top analysts’ estimates — they’re still slashing compensation.

It’s a sign that the banking and trading businesses on which Wall Street’s leading banks rely for billions of dollars in revenue are hitting peak efficiency. Having already pared down headcount to get profitable last quarter, it looks like big banks are running out of jobs to cut.

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Charges: Adviser fired from Wells Fargo, barred from securities industry, but kept scheming

A former Twin Cities investment adviser is facing charges that he bilked clients out of more than $5 million in a fraud that persisted even after his dismissal by Wells Fargo and an industry-imposed ban from practicing.

The Star Tribune reports on the case against Bradley Smegal, who is facing two counts of securities fraud charges. His attorney didn’t comment, but Smegal has apparently notified authorities that he plans to plead guilty.

According to prosecutors, Smegal, who also once worked for Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray, spent years persuading clients to make what he called “conservative” investments — at least some of which went into his personal accounts. He was fired by Wells Fargo in 2011 and barred from the financial sector months later by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. But prosecutors said he kept up the fraud and “led certain clients to believe that he was still employed by Wells Fargo.”

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Nordea Bank Shuts Accounts Amid Tighter Offshore Rules

HELSINKI (AP) — The Nordic region’s largest bank said Wednesday it will close 68 accounts at its Luxembourg branch as it adopts tougher rules on clients using offshore companies.
Nordea Bank has carried out an internal investigation after Swedish broadcaster SVT, one of hundreds of media with access to leaked documents detailing offshore accounts, reported that Nordea’s Luxembourg unit worked with Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca to help customers set up shell companies.

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Fraud or Contract? Homebuyers & Citi Argue

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Lawyers for a group of homeowners clashed with Citibank attorneys at a Tuesday hearing on whether the mortgage loan servicer committed fraud by charging delinquent borrowers unnecessary fees for property inspections.
In an order denying the homeowners class certification last year, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said the case hinges on a contract dispute, as the mortgage terms govern the validity of the charges, and inspection fees are authorized by the plaintiffs’ mortgage agreements under certain circumstances.
“Citi’s liability rises or falls on whether a fact-finder determines that a property inspection fee was authorized by the borrower’s mortgage agreement,” she wrote.
At the Tuesday hearing, Gonzalez-Rogers asked whether the plaintiffs, who live in Alabama, could choose to bring a fraud claim under Alabama law over a breach of contract claim.
In her 2012 lawsuit, lead plaintiff Gloria Stitt claimed Citi colluded with subsidiaries, affiliates and vendors on a profit-making scheme to charge unnecessary and marked-up fees to homeowners for property inspections once they defaulted on their mortgage payments. Stitt said vendors padded fees “often by 100% or more,” but never informed borrowers of the markups or profits. A borrower named Diana Ellis brought a similar lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Chase.
“It’s not a breach of contract to defraud someone of money by asking them for money they’re not obligated to pay: It’s fraud,” said Daniel Alberstone, attorney for the Citi plaintiffs.

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CFPB Sanctions Law Firm and Debt Buyer For Failing to Review Account Documentation

On April 25, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entered an enforcement order against New Jersey law firm Pressler and Pressler and its debt-buyer client, New Century Financial Services, for pursuing hundreds of thousands of debt collection lawsuits without reviewing the underlying documentation supporting the existence of a debt. The law firm agreed to pay a $1 million fine, the debt-buyer client agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine, and both agreed to extensive recordkeeping and compliance measures going forward. These recordkeeping and compliance measures include an obligation to file account information in the court file of defaulted debt-collection cases before obtaining a final judgment, and to do no prejudgment discovery of a debtor’s assets.

The sanction stemmed from the manner in which the debt-buyer client communicated with its law firm. Rather than sending account files of the purchased debts, the client would electronically send spreadsheets showing debtor information and amounts of debts to the law firm. The law firm, which was staffed by over 300 employees, only 19 of which were attorneys, would then use proprietary software to turn the information in the spreadsheets into civil complaints. Neither the debt-buyer client, nor the non-legal staff, nor the attorneys signing the complaints, would review the original account-level documentation substantiating the debt. As a result of these practices, the CFPB found the law firm filed an untold number of lawsuits based on false or unreliable information.

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Freddie Mac must face revived lawsuit over risk disclosures


A federal appeals court on Wednesday revived a lawsuit accusing Freddie Mac and several former top officials of defrauding shareholders by concealing its subprime mortgage exposure and its inadequate risk management prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court judge erred in concluding that the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System did not sufficiently allege that its losses were caused by Freddie Mac’s disclosure shortfalls.

U.S. Seeks $1 Billion in 1MDB Seizures, Including ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Rights

The U.S. Justice Department filed civil-forfeiture complaints against more than $1 billion of assets allegedly acquired using funds misappropriated from a Malaysian economic development fund, according to court filings made public Wednesday.

The assets, which were purchased by the stepson of Malaysia’s prime minister and people connected to the fund, include high-end real estate and hotel properties in New York City, Los Angeles and London, artwork by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, and a $35 million jet. They also include rights to the 2013 film ” The Wolf of Wall Street,” the filings say.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak isn’t named in filings, which were viewed by The Wall Street Journal. But there is reference 32 times in the complaint to “Malaysian Official 1” who received hundreds of millions of dollars in funds allegedly siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., according to the filings.

A person with direct knowledge of the investigation said “Malaysian Official 1” is Mr. Najib. Descriptions of the official in the filings include information about Mr. Najib’s position at 1MDB along with other identifying details.

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U.S. charges two HSBC executives over forex-related scheme

A senior HSBC Holdings Plc manager has been arrested and charged alongside a former foreign exchange executive with engaging in a scheme to front-run a $3.5 billion (£2.6 billion) transaction by one of the bank’s clients, U.S. prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Mark Johnson, HSBC’s global head of foreign exchange cash trading in London, and Stuart Scott, its ex-head of cash trading for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, were charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

Prosecutors said the executives, who are both British citizens, misused information provided to them by a client that had hired HSBC to convert $3.5 billion to British pounds in connection with a planned sale of one of the unnamed company’s subsidiaries.

Johnson, 50, and Scott, 43, used their insider knowledge to buy sterling in order to front-run the transaction, resulting in a spike in the price of the currency that was detrimental to HSBC’s client, prosecutors said.

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Exclusive: Guaranteed Rate offers nationwide 1% down payment program

Guaranteed Rate now offers a nationwide 1% down payment mortgage program named Double Match in an effort to lessen one of the biggest roadblocks to homeownership: the down payment.

The Chicago-based lender is the eighth-largest retail mortgage lender in the U.S., and one of the first mortgage lenders to offer 1% down mortgages.

In an exclusive interview with HousingWire, Kasey Marty, executive vice president of secondary marketing with Guaranteed Rate, said, “We hope and anticipate, from a national scale, that the program creates an opportunity for borrowers and for every office we have.”

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