Citi settles Banamex probe; bitcoin surges again

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That settles it: Citigroup agreed to pay $97 million to settle a money laundering investigation involving its Banamex USA unit dating back to 2007. In exchange, the Justice Department agreed not to file criminal charges against Citi for inadequate oversight of Banamex.

The agreement, the first between a major bank and the JOD under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, "is far less than previous money laundering settlements with large banks and is one of the first to emerge since the change in presidential administrations," the Wall Street Journal noted. "Other deals with big banks have often topped $1 billion and involved so-called deferred prosecution agreements or criminal guilty pleas." Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times

Blockchains and bitcoin: Citigroup and Nasdaq announced a partnership that would link the bank's business payments services to Nasdaq's blockchain platform. The two companies said they have been working together, along with technology startup Chain, for the past few months on the project.

But adoption of blockchain is running into resistance in at least one financial sector. "Many in the conservative commodity business shrink from the thought of losing discretion in their dealings, as well as jobs and perhaps even their business if the technology succeeds disrupting the status quo," Reuters reports. While there have been some recent successes, many market participants "have found that translating enthusiasm into a broad-based roll-out of the technology is proving difficult."

That hasn't stopped the price of bitcoin from going through the roof. The price of the digital currency jumped nearly $300, or 15%, on Monday, climbing over the $2,200 mark. The price of bitcoin has now surged more than 130% this year already and nearly 400% compared to a year ago.

Several trends are behind the recent rise, the Wall Street Journal says, including geopolitical risks and increased buying from investors in Japan, where the government recently began regulating the currency, sparking a surge in trading.

Wall Street Journal
Splitting up — again: Goldman Sachs is once again dividing its investment bankers who focus on healthcare and consumer and retail into two groups with separate leaders. The units have variously worked together, and separately, over the past two decades. "The latest split reflects something that is true for both investment bankers and companies they advise: different markets call for different footprints," the Journal commented.

Wrong address: Not only are millennials not buying enough houses, but the homes they are buying are in the wrong places, which is making the housing shortage worse. Young people are more interested in living in urban areas while eschewing the suburbs, where housing is usually cheaper and more abundant and typically the main driver of new home construction.

Financial Times
Let's not do that again: In his FT blog, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers offers five suggestions for avoiding another banking crisis.

New York Times
Sound familiar?: A small Boston company is suing Apple and Visa, claiming that Apple Pay's digital payment technology violates its patents. The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Delaware by Universal Secure Registry, whose founder, Kenneth P. Weiss, says he received multiple patents for authentication systems that use a smartphone, fingerprint identification and the secure one-time tokens to conduct financial transactions.

"The Japanese have caught the bitcoin bug." — Charles Hayter of Crypto Compare.

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