Stalled German coalition talks received a boost when the SPD confirmed it would engage in further negotiations with Angela Merkel over forming a government. President Trump sparked outrage in his decision to recognise the disputed territory of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy to the city. The Republican majority in the US Senate was cut to one following the shock Alabama election defeat of Republican Judge Roy Moore by Democrat Doug Jones. The value of Bitcoin rose to new highs following the announcement that it could now be traded in futures markets. In this last Round Up of 2017, we wish our readers the best season’s greetings and a successful new year.
The Inquiry into the Irish Nationwide Building Society, Michael Fingleton, William McCollum, Tom McMenamin, John Purcell and Michael Walsh opened. The Inquiry, under the 1942 Central Bank Act, was established to determine whether the INBS and its former managers were involved in any prescribed contraventions in relation to seven categories on the activities of the failed institution submitted by the Central Bank. The Inquiry will begin with an examination of the role of the building society’s Credit Committee.
The Central Bank of Ireland issued Special Purpose Entities – Worked examples on Common Errors, designed to assist firms in compliance with reporting requirements. The regulator also published two Economic Letters and Research on the non-performing loans crisis in the mortgage market, which cover topics such as the speed of the reduction of NPLs and the level of modifications to mortgages during their term.
The Investor Compensation Company DAC published its 2017 Annual Report, where it recorded a surplus to July 2017 of €4.8m from levies of €6.4m. The Company has total accumulated reserves of over €52m. 3,500 firms contribute to the compensation funds, with 5% of them contributing €5m in 2017 and 95% contributing €1.4m. The Company highlighted three instances of compensation payments: Custom House Capital, which generated compensation of €20m; Asset Management Trust Limited which generated compensation of €77,000; and Rush Credit Union, which received no claims for compensation.
The European Securities and Markets Authority said that it was considering a ban on the marketing, distribution or sale to retail clients of binary options and contracts for differences. The news caused shares in spread-betting firms to plunge as the European regulator highlighted the risks to investors. The Financial Conduct Authority had previously announced regulation of the binary options in the UK from 2018. An ESMA consultation is expected in January.
The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee agreed new EU wide penalties for money laundering. The Committee is also seeking to introduce EU wide definitions of money laundering related crimes such as self-laundering, where a person hides the proceeds of their own crimes. A minimum term of two years’ imprisonment and a maximum term of 5 years has also been proposed. If the proposals are endorsed by the European Parliament, talks will start with member states.
In Brexit news the UK government engaged in a breathless rush to conclude Phase 1 talks and to obtain agreement on the question of the Irish border, before the European Union formally concluded that talks could move forward to the second phase. However, the EU issued warnings that Britain could not expect a bespoke deal, and the best offer might be a trade arrangement similar to that signed by Canada, as well as signalling that trade talks might not start in full until March 2018. At home, the UK government was defeated on the right of Parliament to the final vote on the terms of exit. Theresa May later signalled that she could drop the previous decision to ‘hard-wire’ the date of exit into legislation rather than face a second defeat.
The Financial Conduct Authority published a number of documents ahead of the year end, including: updated proposals on new rules to help credit card customers in persistent debt; a consultation on the transition to the Senior Managers and Certification Regime; and a Feedback Statement on Distributed Ledger Technology.
Tejoori Limited, an AIM listed investment company, was fined £70,000 for failing inform the market of inside information, the first fine for late disclosure for a company listed on London’s junior market. Ross Peters, who was convicted of fraud and carrying on regulated activity without authorisation, had a further 400 days imprisonment added to his original sentence of 5 and a half years for failing to pay a confiscation order.
In Hong Kong three senior company executives were arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, in a joint operation with the Securities and Futures Commission. The individuals were understood to be part of the Enigma network, a collection of 50 listed small cap companies with cross shareholdings in one another, which all experienced suspicious movements in their share prices at similar times.
Chinese banks are to have direct access London foreign exchange markets. The Renminbi’s growth as a global currency is to be boosted by plans introduced by UK Chancellor Philip Hammond to bring new business to London financial markets. Trades in the spot FX market will be guaranteed by the Shanghai Clearing House. Trading access will start with US Dollar, Sterling, Euro and Hong Kong dollar transactions.