Article: Swiss private bank fined $1m for breaching anti-money laundering rules

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Swiss private bank fined $1m for breaching anti-money laundering rules

Nandita Bhardwaj, 16 April 2021

The Singapore-based branch of a Swiss private bank has reportedly been charged $1 million for failing to adhere with measures to counter terrorist financing and money-laundering. The fine was imposed on Bank J. Safra Sarasin for serious breaches between March 2014 & September 2018.

In particular, the bank failed to establish the source of the funds of its customers by appropriate as well as reasonable means.

In most cases, Bank J. Safra Sarasin depended on the representations of customers without any proper validation. The bank also failed to inquire into exceptionally large or irregular patterns of customer transactions that had no apparent economic purpose. Continue reading “Article: Swiss private bank fined $1m for breaching anti-money laundering rules”

Article: Hong Kong stock exchange to extend circuit breakers to futures products to temper wild gyrations in equities and derivatives

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HKEX incoming CEO Nicolas Aguzin

Hong Kong stock exchange to extend circuit breakers to futures products to temper wild gyrations in equities and derivatives

Yahoo Finance, 09 April 2021

The move will add to similar controls put in place since August 2016, first on extreme gyrations in equities and a year later on derivative products. They followed a series of events that provoked regulatory probes into market misconduct such as price manipulation and pump-and-dump scandals.

“The volatility control mechanism (VCM) has worked as intended without any negative feedback from the market,” said Tom Chan Pak-lam, chairman of Hong Kong Institute of Securities Dealers, the local brokerage industry body. “In many cases, sharp and sudden price movements were smoothed out as the cooling-off periods allowed participants to react while trading continued.”

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Article: Reflecting crypto craze, crypto-related scams spiral higher in the U.K.

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Reflecting crypto craze, crypto-related scams spiral higher in the U.K.

SOPHIE MELLOR, 06 April 2021

As the value of virtual currencies spirals ever higher, so have the scams related to them.

According to new data from the U.K.’s fraud reporting service Action Fraud, scams involving cryptocurrency investment rose 57% across the U.K. in 2020, with a total of 5,581 reports made.

Investors lost a total of £113 million to crypto scammers in 2020, up from £76.6 million the previous year. Continue reading “Article: Reflecting crypto craze, crypto-related scams spiral higher in the U.K.”

Article: Market manipulation using pump-and-dump strategy

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Market manipulation using pump-and-dump strategy

CFA SOCIETY SINGAPORE ADVOCACY TEAM, 31 March 2021

CONSIDER this hypothetical scenario: In an effort to pump up the price of his holdings in a loss-making distributor of electronic games, Steve Wong logs on to several investor chat rooms on the Internet to start rumours that the company is about to expand its distribution network to untapped overseas markets, in anticipation of tie-ups with big local champions in their respective domestic markets. Continue reading “Article: Market manipulation using pump-and-dump strategy”

Article: Big Oil’s Secret World of Trading

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Big Oil’s Secret World of Trading

Javier Blas and Jack Farchy, 30 March 2021

It was a bleak moment for the oil industry. U.S. shale companies were failing by the dozen. Petrostates were on the brink of bankruptcy. Texas roughnecks and Kuwaiti princes alike had watched helplessly for months as the commodity that was their lifeblood tumbled to prices that had until recently seemed unthinkable. Below $50 a barrel, then below $40, then below $30.

But inside the central London headquarters of one of the world’s largest oil companies, there was an air of calm. It was January 2016. Bob Dudley had been at the helm of BP Plc for six years. He ought to have had as much reason to panic as anyone in the rest of his industry. The unflashy American had been predicting lower prices for months. He was being proved right, though that was hardly a reason to celebrate. Continue reading “Article: Big Oil’s Secret World of Trading”

Article: FCA comes down on Wirex after allegations of turning a blind eye to money laundering

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FCA comes down on Wirex after allegations of turning a blind eye to money laundering

Aisling Finn,  30 March 2021

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has decided to crack down on crypto and fiat currency payments provider Wirex after money laundering allegations surfaced, according to an investigation by Fintech Futures.

In response to the article, Wirex’s legal team said: “The article in question contains a number of false, defamatory and misleading statements, including the allegations that money is being laundered through the company, and Wirex is currently considering its legal options to have the article removed immediately.”

Concerns were allegedly first raised all the way back in February 2019 after several Wirex employees independently approached the FCA with concerns that customer money was being laundered through the company, according to the report by Fintech Futures.

The employees, one of which was in a senior compliance position, also reportedly raised concerns that Wirex was trading crypto that wasn’t the company’s to trade. Continue reading “Article: FCA comes down on Wirex after allegations of turning a blind eye to money laundering”

Article: Vegas Sands Probes Money-Laundering Safeguards at Singapore Unit

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Vegas Sands Probes Money-Laundering Safeguards at Singapore Unit

Chanyaporn Chanjaroen,  29 March 2021

Las Vegas Sands Corp. set up a special committee to look into potential breaches of anti-money laundering procedures at its Singapore casino, which has already been the target of probes by U.S. officials and local police.

The committee of three independent board members is reviewing money transfers among high-rollers and third parties at Marina Bay Sands, as well as any possible retaliation against whistle blowers, according to people familiar with the matter. U.S. law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP has been hired to assist with the review, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because of the confidentiality involved.

Las Vegas Sands declined to comment. Continue reading “Article: Vegas Sands Probes Money-Laundering Safeguards at Singapore Unit”

Article: Exchange leaders say GameStop saga highlights regulatory challenges

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Exchange leaders say GameStop saga highlights regulatory challenges

John McCrank, 16 March 2021

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The recent trading frenzy around GameStop Corp and other so-called “meme” stocks highlights shortcomings and challenges in the U.S. markets as retail investors become a bigger presence, exchange leaders said on Tuesday.

“The regulatory structure of the U.S. equity markets, in my mind, is flawed,” Jeff Sprecher, chief executive of New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc, said on a panel at the Future Industry Association’s virtual FIA Boca conference.

Regulators have focused on competition between market intermediaries, like brokers and exchanges, rather than between buyers and sellers seeking to get the best prices, and the GameStop event exposed issues with that structure, he said.

In January, retail investors coordinated through social media forums in an attempt to punish hedge funds by buying shares of GameStop and other heavily shorted names, driving up their prices and forcing short sellers to close out positions at big losses.

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Article: EMERGING MARKETS-Taiwan dollar shrugs off potential manipulation tag; other Asian FX gain

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EMERGING MARKETS-Taiwan dollar shrugs off potential manipulation tag; other Asian FX gain

Shruti Sonal, March 2021

March 11 (Reuters) – The Taiwan dollar strengthened on Thursday even as the country’s central bank warned of a potential U.S. scrutiny of its monetary policy, while other emerging Asian currencies gained as easing inflation fears and falling Treasury yields hurt the greenback.

The Taiwan dollar, among the best performing currencies in the region this year, added 0.6%. Taiwan’s central bank said it bought a net $39.1 billion to intervene in the foreign exchange market, as it stepped up efforts in November and December to “avoid serious disorder”, possibly putting the trade-dependent island in Washington’s crosshairs to be labelled a manipulator.

Most other currencies also gained as the U.S. dollar languished near one-week lows. The South Korean won climbed 0.6%, while the Thai baht added 0.4%.

However, the long-term outlook for the region’s currencies remained less than rosy.

A Reuters poll showed investors cut long bets sharply on the Chinese yuan, while turning short on most other Asian currencies, as improving prospects of economic growth in the United States and the recent rise in yields have bolstered the dollar.

Bets on the South Korean won, the Singapore dollar and the Malaysian ringgit all turned bearish for the first time since early last summer.

Most equities climbed higher, tracking gains on Wall Street overnight after benign consumer price data for February calmed inflation fears and Congress gave final approval to one of the largest economic stimulus measures in U.S. history.

The South Korean benchmark climbed over 2% after five consecutive sessions of declines, while Taiwan and Singapore added 1.6% and 0.9% respectively.

Thai shares hit their highest in nearly two months as consumer confidence increased for the first time in three months in February, bolstered by an easing coronavirus outbreak, government stimulus and the distribution of vaccines.

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Article: U.S. Treasury labels Switzerland, Vietnam as currency manipulators

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U.S. Treasury labels Switzerland, Vietnam as currency manipulators

Reuters Staff, 16 December 2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury labeled Switzerland and Vietnam as currency manipulators on Wednesday and added three new names to a watch list of countries it suspects of taking measures to devalue their currencies against the dollar.

In what may be one of the final broadsides to international trading partners delivered by the departing administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, the Treasury said that through June 2020 both Switzerland and Vietnam had intervened in currency markets to prevent effective balance of payments adjustments.

Furthermore, in its semi-annual currency manipulation report, the Treasury said Vietnam had acted to gain “unfair competitive advantage in international trade as well.” Continue reading “Article: U.S. Treasury labels Switzerland, Vietnam as currency manipulators”

Article: The US clampdown on firms “spoofing” the markets

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The US clampdown on firms “spoofing” the markets

Simon Wilson, 24 October 2020

A few weeks ago the big US bank JPMorgan Chase admitted that its then-employees fraudulently rigged precious-metals and Treasury (US government bond) markets tens of thousands of times between 2008 and 2016. As part of its settlement with the US authorities, it agreed to pay a total of $920m in fines and restitution (including $172m in “disgorgement”, meaning paying back its ill-gotten gains). The bank admitted that traders based in New York, London and Singapore – working in the gold, silver and other precious metals futures markets, as well as the Treasury cash and futures markets – had engaged in the practice known as “spoofing” on thousands of occasions over the course of eight years.

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Article: JPMorgan Chase Fined US$920 Million For Market Manipulation

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JPMorgan Chase Fined US$920 Million For Market Manipulation

MSHERELYN GOH, 02 October 2020

Just like in an episode of Billions, only Bobby Axelrod would actually have to pay up, JPMorgan Chase has to fork out US$920 million to settle US civil and criminal charges over fake trades in precious metals and Treasury futures designed to manipulate the market,. The settlement comes as the largest bank in the US reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department to resolve criminal fraud charges over the long-running schemes.

In one of the schemes, JPMorgan traders in New York, London and Singapore between 2008 and 2016 commissioned tens of thousands of orders for gold, silver, platinum and palladium futures that were placed in order to be cancelled to deceive other market participants, wrote the Department of Justice (DOJ), one of three agencies involved in the case, in a press release. Continue reading “Article: JPMorgan Chase Fined US$920 Million For Market Manipulation”

Article: The Mysterious London Traders Accused of Manipulating Oil Markets — and the Anonymous Hedge Fund, Rare-Coin Expert, and Day Traders Who Are Fighting Back

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The Mysterious London Traders Accused of Manipulating Oil Markets — and the Anonymous Hedge Fund, Rare-Coin Expert, and Day Traders Who Are Fighting Back

Leah McGrath Goodman, 17 September 2020

Robert Mish is not an oil trader. He’s a numismatist — an expert in rare coins, precious metals, and currencies. Growing up in Brooklyn, he began by collecting stamps and playing cards at the age of four. From there, he moved on to coins and, eventually, valuable antiquities, heading out to California to start his own business in Menlo Park, Mish International Monetary. He traveled the world attending coin shows and became an authority on commodities such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, writing and contributing to a number of books.

This year, two months after his 73rd birthday, Mish found himself trading U.S. crude oil futures at perhaps their most inopportune moment: On April 20, the price of oil fell to zero — and kept falling. Mish, an expert in commodities, was holding ten oil contracts as the market went over the edge.

After 50 years of inspecting currencies and stores of value from the Americas to Europe to Asia, Mish can also claim another expertise: He is an expert in counterfeit detection. That day, as he watched his oil trades go south, he picked up the phone and called one of the best market-manipulation lawyers in the country.

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Article: Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands casino pays Chinese gambler US$6.5 million to settle suit

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Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands casino pays Chinese gambler US$6.5 million to settle suit

Bloomberg,  20 July 2020

(Bloomberg) Singapore casino Marina Bay Sands has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a former patron, meeting his demand for a S$9.1 million (US$6.5 million) payment, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Marina Bay Sands, run by US billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, also agreed to allow Chinese gambler Wang Xi back into the casino as long as he abides by its policies, said the person, who asked not be identified because the matter is confidential.

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Article: Swiss franc climbs after US adds it to ‘manipulation’ watchlist

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Swiss franc climbs after US adds it to ‘manipulation’ watchlist

Sam Jones in Zurich and Eva Szalay in London , 15 January 2020

The Swiss franc nudged up to a near three-year high against the euro on Tuesday as markets anticipated the move would limit the Swiss National Bank’s appetite for aggressive action to try to hold down its currency in future.

“The report is a warning shot to the SNB,” said George Saravelos, global co-head of currency research at Deutsche Bank, adding that the franc is likely to push higher from here. It now trades around CHF1.08 against the euro.

The US called on Bern on Monday to “more forcefully support domestic economic activity” by spending money and reducing the country’s already low tax burden, in what was an unusual swipe at a sovereign nation’s financial affairs. “Despite borrowing costs for the Swiss government being among the lowest in the world, fiscal policy remains underutilised, even within the constraints of Switzerland’s existing fiscal rules,” the US Treasury said in its assessment.

The SNB said on Tuesday that its interventions were transparent, and “motivated purely by monetary policy . . . aimed at addressing the negative consequence for inflation and the economy through a highly valued franc.”

“They are not aimed at giving Switzerland advantages by undervaluing the Swiss franc,” it added.

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