The European Union’s 60th Anniversary was marred by the formal delivery of the Article 50 notification by the British Government; the European response made it clear that the negotiations had to deal with exit terms before discussions on any future relationship. The struggling Deutsche Börse merger with the London Stock Exchange appeared to come to a halt over EU competition objections. In the UK the Financial Conduct Authority re-opened its investigation into Barclays Bank’s capital raising in 2008. In America, the Trump administration failed to pass new health care legislation, despite the overall majority currently held by the Republican Party, slowing a stock market boom based on the potential of a business friendly regime. Here are the principle stories from finance and regulation for the last two weeks.
The Pensions Authority issued its summary of 2016 and details of its plans for 2017. Misappropriation of pension assets remained the prime concern. In 2016, the Authority brought 26 prosecutions and secured 12 convictions. It issued 11 Codes of Conduct on the standards of behaviour expected of trustees. It is expecting to see increased use of its codes and guidance in the coming year.
The Central Bank issued Consultation Paper 108 on ‘New Methodology to Calculate Funding Levies: Credit Institutions, Investment Firms, Fund Services Providers and EEA insurers’. The paper looks at changing the allocations of individual levies for each sector rather than increasing the aggregate amounts. Responses are requested for 28 April 2017.
The Central Bank introduced a new Consumer Protection Risk Assessment Model for regulated firms. It establishes a new and more intrusive approach for supervisory assessments of regulated firms in relation to conduct and consumer protection risk management. The Central Bank said the model will be used in 2017 in a series of targeted assessments across retail sectors, with a particular focus on culture, performance management, sales incentives and product governance.
The European Securities and Markets Authority published its final report on the draft regulatory and technical standards for the Benchmarks Regulation. The RTS set out the standards expected of administrators and contributors. ESMA also published details of complaints received in the first half of 2016, which showed an increase of almost 2000 matters on the number received in the second half of 2015. The principal areas of complaint were order execution, unauthorised businesses and the quality of information received by consumers.
The expected migration of financial services jobs out of the UK came out into the open with an announcement by Lloyds of London that it was setting up an office in Brussels in order to retain a presence in Europe after Brexit. The move raised concerns that other insurance companies would follow suit. Whilst it was no secret that financial services companies were actively preparing to relocate roles, JPMorgan and Citibank were reported to have confirmed to staff their intention to move jobs in the event of a hard Brexit.
A former investment banker was fined £37,000 for sharing confidential information over ‘WhatsApp’. Christopher Niehaus sent a number of messages using the social messaging facility which included details of the identity of this client, the client mandate and the fees he would charge. Mr Niehaus also boasted about how he would be able to pay off his mortgage if one of the deals was successful. Mr Niehaus had resigned from his position at Jeffries International Limited.
The fallout from Tesco’s accounting scandal continued as the Financial Conduct Authority announced that the retailer had admitted that its trading update of August 2014 gave a false and misleading impression about the value of its bond and share prices. The retailer will compensate investors who purchased shares or bonds after the announcement. This was the first use of the Financial Conduct Authority’s powers under section 384 of the Financial Services and Markets Act to order payment of compensation by a listed company for market abuse.
Credit Suisse confirmed it was subject to investigations by multiple European tax authorities looking at undeclared bank accounts and money laundering. Raids took place on homes in the Netherlands and France and the Swiss bank confirmed that its offices in London, Paris and Amsterdam had been searched. The actions drew an angry response from the Swiss Government which complained that it had not been consulted by the other countries in advance of their actions.