Articles Tagged with HSBC

To settle a private securities lawsuit in the US alleging Libor manipulation, HSBC Holdings Plc. (HSBC) has agreed to pay $100M. The bank is accused of conspiring to rig the London interbank offered rated (Libor) benchmark. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are a number “over-the-counter” investors, including Yale University and the Maryland city of Baltimore, that dealt directly with banks belonging to the panel tasked with determining the key benchmark interest rate. Now, a court will have to approve the preliminary settlement.

The plaintiffs sued 16 banks for alleged Libor rigging in 2011. According to their case, HSBC and other banks conspired together to submit artificially low borrowing costs so that they could appear more financially robust and increase earnings. These lower borrowing costs led to a lower Libor, which had an adverse effect on institutions and persons that invested in pension funds, money market funds, mutual funds, the bond market, a number of derivative products, and bank loan funds.

Libor is the benchmark used to establish rates on hundreds of trillions of dollars of transactions, including those involving credit cards, student loans, and mortgages. It also allows the banks to figure out what it would cost them to borrow from one another.

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Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG (DB) will pay a $30M civil penalty to resolve charges brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission accusing them of spoofing. According to the regulator, from at least 2/2008 through 9/2014, DB AG, with the help of a number of precious metal traders, sought to rig the price of precious metals futures contracts that were traded on the Commodity Exchange, Inc.

The CFTC’s order said that the traders worked alone and with each other to buy or sell these contracts while planning all along to cancel them before they were executed after a smaller offer was made on the opposite side of the market. The spoof orders were purportedly made to give the impression of market depth in order to generate trading interest.

The regulator found that through the traders’ actions, Deutsche Bank AG sought to not only rig the price of precious metals futures contracts but also to profit from these manipulations. The CFTC said the firm worked with one trader in Singapore who made orders and trades to “trigger customer stop-loss orders.”

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Royal Bank of Scotland Settles DOJ RMBS Fraud Probe for $44M
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS) has agreed to a non-prosecution deal with the US Justice Department to resolve a criminal probe accusing traders of defrauding residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized loan obligation (CLO) customers. As part of the settlement, RBS will pay a $35M fine. It will also pay at least $9M to over 30 customers, including affiliates of Barclays (BARC), Goldman Sachs (GS), Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C) and Morgan Stanley (MS), as well as to the Soros Fund Management and Pacific Investment Management Co. RBS admitted to the misconduct.

The bank’s fraud involved mortgage-backed securities, asset-backed securities, and commercial mortgage-backed securities. The group that handled these securities for the bank is no longer in operation.

According to prosecutors, from ’08 to ’13, RBS lied about bond prices, charged unwarranted commissions, and hid the fraud, all the while enhancing its own profits and costing customers money. In a joint press release, the DOJ and the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said that the bank’s employees were encouraged to engage in the wrongful behavior, including misrepresenting material facts to customers, lying about the seller’s asking price to the buyer and lying about the buyer’s asking price to the seller, pocketing the difference between what the buyer paid and what the seller received, and misrepresenting that a non-existent third party was involved in the bond sales so that the bank could charge the extra, unwarranted commission. RBS is also accused of training its CLO and RMBS traders to engage in the fraudulent practices, lying to customers that suspected the fraud, and disregarding its employees who complained about the fraud.

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A federal jury in New York has found Mark Johnson guilty on criminal charges accusing him of front-running involving a $3.5B currency trade. HSBC’s ex-foreign-exchange cash trading global head is the first banker that the US Justice Department charged over forex rate rigging.

Johnson was convicted on eight counts of wire fraud and one count of wire fraud conspiracy, and he reportedly will appeal the verdict. Johnson maintains that he was acting in the best interest of the client involved and he did not do anything wrong or irregular.

According to acting US Attorney in Brooklyn Bridget M. Rohde, Johnson used confidential information given to him by an HSBC client to make trades in an attempt to earn millions of dollars for the bank and himself while costing the client money. He and ex-HSBC European currency trading head Stuart Scott allegedly engaged in front running, which involves making trades based on advanced information about a big market order, with the advanced trades rendering huge profits once the bigger transaction has upped the price. Scott is currently in the UK battling extradition efforts to bring him back to the US.

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Deutsche Bank AG (DB) has consented to pay $190M to resolve an investor fraud lawsuit accusing the German lender of manipulating prices in the foreign exchange market. Despite settling, however, the bank maintains that it did not engage in wrongdoing.

Investors accused Deutsche bank and 15 other banks of conspiring to rig key currency benchmark rates by coordinating strategies and sharing confidential trade information and orders. The bank’s traders are accused of meeting in chat rooms to engage in numerous tactics to make more profits regardless of whether or not this meant losses for investors.

Regulator probes into currency rigging have led to $10B in fines imposed against a number of big banks, including the most recent one by the Federal Reserve, which ordered HSBC to pay a $175M fine for not properly monitoring its currency traders. With the investor lawsuits, Credit Suisse Group AG (CS) is the only one of the banks sued by investors that has not settled.

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The US Federal Reserve is ordering HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC) to pay a $175M fine, accusing the bank of engaging in practices that were “unsafe and unsound” in its foreign exchange trading business. According to the Fed, HSBC did not properly oversee chat rooms in which traders exchanged information about investment positions.

The authorities contend that the bank’s traders exchanged confidential information about client orders and coordinated trades to enhance profits. As part of the securities enforcement action, HSBC will have to improve its controls and compliance risk management as it pertains to FX Trading.

Ex-HSBC Forex Spot Trader Head Accused of Front Running
In a different case, Mark Johnson, the former head of HSBC’s foreign exchange cash trading desk, is on trial over allegations of “front-running” involving forex spot trading. He and co-conspirator Stuart Scott have been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy for allegedly defrauding Cairn Energy PLC in a multi-billion dollar transaction that occurred in 2011. Front-running involving forex markets usually refers to the making of a trade that is proprietary prior to a customer making a potentially market-moving trade in order to profit.

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Deutsche Bank Settle Investor Lawsuit Over Euribor Rigging
Deutsche Bank AG (DB) has agreed to pay $170M to resolve an investor fraud lawsuit accusing the German lender of conspiring with other banks to rig Euribor and other derivatives. Euribor is the European Interbank Offered Rate benchmark and the euro-denomination equivalent of Libor, which is the London Interbank Offered Rate.

FrontPoint Australian Opportunities Trust and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) are two of the plaintiffs in the Euribor rigging case against Deutsche Bank. However, the bank, despite settling, is not denying or admitting to wrongdoing. It claims to have decided to resolve the case to avoid more lawsuits and further costs.

A preliminary settlement has been submitted in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Now, a judge must approve the deal.

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US prosecutors have arrested HBSC (HSBC) executive Mark Johnson for his alleged involvement in a front-running scam. Johnson is the global head of foreign exchange cash trading at HSBC Bank, which is a HSBC Holdings subsidiary. Also facing criminal charges is Stuart Scott, who is the former head of HSBC foreign exchange cash trading for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He was let go in 2014. Johnson and Scott are the first individuals to face criminal charges in the forex rigging probe.

According to the criminal complaint, which charges the two men with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in 2011 Scott and Johnson inappropriately used information that the bank’s client gave them about a planned sale of one of the client’s subsidiaries. The client had retained HSBC to execute the foreign exchange transaction, which necessitated changing about $3.5B in sale proceeds into British Pound Sterling.

HSBC was supposed to keep the details of this pending transaction confidential. However, Scott and Johnson allegedly misused this information, buying Pound Sterling for the bank’s proprietary accounts, which they held until the transaction went through. This caused the transaction to take place in a way intended to compel the Pound Sterling’s price to jump up.

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New information regarding HSBC Holdings PLC’s (HSBC) history of aiding tax evaders has been released by ex-employee Hervé Falciani to a number of media outlet, as well as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The data alleges that the bank kept secret accounts for a number of wealthy, celebrity, and/or unsavory individuals, including “dictators and arms dealers,” as well as clients that are on U.S. sanctions lists. HSBC also purportedly would advise clients on how to get around paying taxes in their home countries.

Falciani, an HSBC computer analyst who calls himself a whistleblower, has provided what the BBC is calling the largest data leak in the history of banking. He started sending information out in 2008, copying files onto personal storage devices. The information was sent to French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who now runs the International Monetary Fund. She notified other governments.

Falciani claims that in 2006,he notified his superiors at HSBC that there were flaws in data storage that could hurt client confidentiality. He said that no one paid attention. Bank officials, however, counter that Falciani issued no such warnings.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is charging HSBC Private Bank (HSBC) with violating U.S. federal securities laws. According to the regulator, the Swiss private banking arm did not register with the agency before providing clients in this country with cross-border brokerage and investment advisory services.

HSBC Private Bank as agreed to pay $12.5 million to resolve the SEC’s charges. It is also admitting to wrongdoing.

According to the SEC order over the settled administrative proceedings, the private banking arm and its predecessors started providing the services at issue over 10 years ago, growing its clients base to up to 368 U.S. accounts while collecting about $5.7 million in fees. Banking personnel came to this country over three dozen times to solicit clients, offer advice, and fulfill securities transactions. The managers who completed these tasks were not registered to provide these services nor were they affiliated with a registered brokerage firm or investment adviser. These managers also communicated via e-mail and postal mail with clients in the U.S.

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