As we enter 2015 financial institutions are confronted with an uncertain and shifting economic and political landscape. 2014 has seen slower than hoped for global economic expansion with stalling Chinese growth and the burgeoning Rouble crisis, while the current situation in Greece places the future of the Eurozone in the balance. Meanwhile, for UK financial institutions, political uncertainty abounds ahead of the next general election.....More
This is the time of year to roll out the platitudes and look back over the past 12 months, at the high points and low points and this blog is no exception.
The OECD Foreign Bribery Report, released earlier this month, provides some interesting insights into corruption within international business. Not surprisingly, it highlights the usual sectors as hotspots for bribery and corruption activity. Drawing on data from the 427 foreign bribery cases that have been concluded since 1999 (when the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention first entered into force) the report finds that the extractive sector accounted for 19% of these, construction 15%, and transportation and storage a further 15%.....More
I went to the UK launch of the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index on Wednesday night at Skinners' Hall. As expected some countries have gone up and some down in the rankings. A quick summary for you…
South East Asia is about to become borderless; someone is keeping tabs on the North Korean leadership apparatus and campaign financing is under the spotlight.
The ‘over-zealous’ application of foreign money laundering rules means British banks are facing risks of slower growth abroad, while also meaning weaker economies are facing exclusion from global financial markets. Or at least, this was the signal sent by the BoE deputy governor, Andrew Bailey, on 4 November 2014, who said:....More
In a recent speech at the New York Federal Reserve, Barclays Chairman Sir David Walker argued that: “Regulators cannot and should not try to regulate culture, which is a matter for the individual entity”.
Since early October, students in Hong Kong have protested against China’s reneged promise of free and fair elections. This coming from the country who protested last when its citizens lost money en masse due to the misselling of minibonds in 2008. They used to say that HK only protests if the people lose their money. Clearly, this is no longer the case.....More
2014 has so far been a year of massive regulatory fines. The US authorities in particular have upped the ante in their actions against large financial institutions. Amongst the highest profile of these was the $9bn fine issued against BNP Paribas in July, which led recently to the resignation of the bank's chairman, Boudouin Prot.
In this age of increasingly enlightened, engaged and empowered consumers, last year’s horse meat scandal had many choking in outrage on their locally-sourced, organic, gluten-free cornflakes. The episode provided a clear red flag for potential shortcomings in the governance of global food supply chains, and the greater scrutiny that the food system has been subjected to by authorities in the aftermath of the scandal has begun to reveal the true extent of the market for counterfeit food.....More
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the primary regulatory agency for national banks and Federal savings associations in the US, has provided final guidance on higher standards for risk management in larger banks.
Last week, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit the headlines with his promise of bank accounts for every household in the country, a bid to offer help to the country’s poor. The initiative is part of a movement towards financial inclusion, which means making financial services accessible by people who do not have formal identification documents, fixed abodes or even known dates of birth.....More
The conviction of three people in June for conspiracy to commit bribery relating to match fixing had me thinking (again)… can we use the number of corruption convictions as an indicator on how corrupt the UK actually is?
An investigation published by the New York Times recently provided a fascinating read for anyone involved in countering the financing of terrorism (CFT). While it has long been believed that counterfeiting provides the primary source of financing for terrorists, the Times report suggests that ransom payments have now surpassed it.....More
Influential, wealthy and ‘lawyered-up’ entities are settling bribery cases with prosecutors by throwing money at the case in order to avoid admitting guilt or proving innocence. What message does this send out to the world?
This month’s APAC bulletin from the ICA looks at the massive and sudden resurgence of terrorist financing threat from the Middle East, we glimpse inside the Singaporean financial sector and comment on how APAC financial institutions could get the jump on compliance culture changes spearheaded in Europe and the US.....More
I wrote recently about the emerging phenomenon of guilty pleas in US regulatory enforcement cases, and their apparent lack of substance following the Credit Suisse plea. In the Credit Suisse case no individuals were punished, no licenses revoked, no activities suspended, and the bank itself confirmed that the impact of the guilty plea on business had been "very limited", leaving many to wonder whether the bank's plea served any purpose other than to add some window dressing to an admittedly large fine.
The regulatory environment, and consequently the role of compliance, has changed significantly in recent years. There has always been significant overlap between regulatory compliance and risk management - the compliance function’s fundamental purpose after all, is to manage the firm’s regulatory risk. And more recently we have seen how a firm’s governance, culture and organisational behaviour are core to how all risk is managed within the firm.....More
The military coup in Thailand is well publicized. As of May 31st, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the junta chief has declared he will remain in charge of Thailand until the country is ready to elect a new civilian PM via democratic elections. He estimates this will mean at least 15 more months of army control for Thailand. So far, it does not appear to be making much of a difference to tourism. I saw no changes on the small island I live on, nor in Bangkok where bars, cafes and street side massage chairs were open after ten and full of customers, nor on the Thai Burmese border where farang pubs are closing the doors at curfew, but keeping the customers inside.
The Hurun Report has been producing an annual list of China’s wealthiest people for the past 15 years, based upon estimations of how rich someone is according to the information made public about them. Both the Forbes and Hurun lists agree that Wang Jianlin is China’s richest man with somewhere between USD14bn and USD22bn under his control. Putting aside the trifling USD8bn difference for a moment, a new small but significantly wealthy and connected group of people has emerged in China. The so called ‘problem rich’ are under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
In May 2013 Barclays said it would close the bank accounts of Somali remittance company Dahabshiil and a number of other money transfer companies (between 100 and 250 depending on what you read). This was a considered decision as part of Barclays’ risk-based approach to its obligations under UK anti-money laundering legislation.....More
Transforming lives is not normally in a compliance person’s job description, but here in CAF Bank, our work allows charities to flourish and enable their transformational work. I’ve always given to charity, so this role sits very well with my own ethos.
In recent years there has been a great deal of focus on the individual competencies for individuals working in a compliance function (for instance see the National Occupational Standards of Competence produced by the UK Financial and Legal Skills Partnership in association with the ICA).....More
High Frequency Trading (HFT) has been attracting considerable attention this month following the publication of “Flash Boys”, in which bond salesman turned financial writer Michael Lewis suggests that “US stock markets are now rigged by traders who go to astonishing lengths to gain a millisecond edge over their rivals”. With the book’s publication coming just days before the European Parliament voted to adopt HFT regulations under Mifid, the topic of HFT has been generating headlines on both sides of the pond.
When someone asked me to cover this region for the first time, I thought it was ambitious. The more I learned about Asia Pacific (APAC), the more that statement made sense. Financial services compliance in APAC is moving at both light speed and a snail's pace, depending on where you are standing.....More
For many people membership of the ICA is a natural progression after successfully completing an ICA diploma. Becoming a Professional Member of the ICA brings certain benefits such as access to our quarterly journal, inCOMPLIANCE; continued access to the ICA website and the wealth of resource it contains; discounts at various trade events and conferences… and of course the professional designation ‘MICA’. But what does professional membership say about you?
When I go to briefing sessions about ICA qualifications and speak to delegates about their career aspirations , one of the more frequent questions I get asked is “will the qualification get me a job in the area I am interested in?” Indeed in the last two or three years this question has increased significantly in popularity due to the rise in recruitment opportunities in compliance and related roles.....More
The past decade has seen an explosion in the scale of the New Payments Products and Services (NPPS) sector. Let’s just be clear what we mean by this. Typically NPPS are defined as prepaid cards, mobile payments and internet based payment systems.
Evidence published last week by the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) in connection with its Project Verde inquiry highlights again both the importance of good corporate governance and the fact that, for some in the financial sector, achieving it remains a struggle.....More
Last week Sir Richard Lambert published a consultation paper on the creation of a new professional standards body for the banking industry in the UK, designed to improve standards of conduct and the culture of banks.
As I left a bright and sunny London yesterday afternoon having attended the Chatham House conference titled ‘Combating Global Corruption, Sharing Standards and Common Practice’ and shared the company of the good and the wise, I left encouraged because of the very considerable efforts that are evidently being made by law enforcement and other interested parties to reduce the demand and supply side of graft and corruption, but equally concerned by the apparent lack of action and regulation of alternative money transfer arrangements.....More
Last week an application was made to grant the Forth Bridge “UNESCO world heritage site” status. Of course, legend has it that no sooner is the bridge painted than the job of repainting it has to begin again... which seems a fitting theme as world leaders have been gathering in Davos to discuss, among other things, the seemingly unending task of regulatory reform.