Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Wall St. Posers: Hackers have been masquerading as investment bankers and senior executives at pharmaceutical and health care companies as part of a plot to gain access to market-moving information, according to a report from cybersecurity firm FireEye. For more than a year, the cybercriminals have sent phishing emails "written in flawless English and carefully worded to sound as if they were sent by someone with an extensive background in investment banking and with knowledge of the terms those in the industry employ," the New York Times reports. The hackers' fluency with Wall Street jargon and English in general has prompted FireEye to speculate they are likely Americans or Western Europeans. More than 100 companies have reportedly been breached. Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Wall Street Journal
International authorities have launched parallel investigations into whether the failed Portuguese bank Banco Espírito Santo facilitated money laundering in multiple countries, according to the paper. In the U.S., "New York prosecutors and a federal grand jury are looking into whether Banco Espírito Santo's Miami-based banking unit was used to launder money by a Venezuelan businessman who was one of the bank's biggest clients," anonymice say. Portuguese, Swiss and Libyan officials are also probing possible AML violations at the bank.
Symphony Communication Services, the instant-messaging software firm backed by a number of Wall Street banks, has acquired a chat-service business from financial data provider Markit. Symphony plans to launch its communications platform for bankers in July. The deal will give Symphony access to Markit's directory of financial firms, reportedly shaving a year and a half off development time.
Much like a loyal baseball fan, venture capitalist Tim Draper is keeping the faith in Bitcoin even when his team hits a rough patch. Despite the digital currency's drop in price and concerns about the impact of forthcoming regulation, Draper will try to add more digital currency to his stash with a bid on 50,000 bitcoins in a government auction this week. Draper, who acquired 30,000 bitcoins in an auction this summer, tells the paper he thinks of Bitcoin as a long-term investment. Such enthusiasm runs in the family: the Journal ran a story on his son's incubator for Bitcoin entrepreneurs earlier this week.
The Federal Reserve Board can simplify and strengthen bank regulation by ceasing to delegate supervisory responsibilities to the New York Fed and other regional banks, according a "Heard on the Street" column by David Reilly. He writes that in the current system, "there are essentially two regulatory chains of command: one that focuses on individual banks and another that tries to look across the financial landscape. Those shouldn't be separate functions complicating what is already a complex system."
Wells Fargo is cutting ties with Prisoner Assistant, a financial services firm for inmates. Prisoner Assistant, founded six years ago by former federal prisoner Michael Menanti, has attracted scrutiny from U.S. authorities, including the federal Bureau of Prisons and Pennsylvania securities regulators, in recent years.
Lending to larger companies is on the rise in the U.S., and that makes regulators and apparently the FT's Lex team a little nervous. "The Fed is worried that growing competition between banks to win over new customers will lead many to weaken their underwriting standards and risk management assessments," according to the column. While there are no storm clouds on the horizon thus far in terms of nonperforming loans and charge-off rates, the Lex team suggests it's worth keeping watch.
New York Times
Andrew Ross Sorkin draws the wrath of commenters with a column that mounts a partial defense of the revolving door between the government and Wall Street. Sorkin suggests the hefty compensation packages senior executives often receive when they leave banks for government jobs are justified because the payouts encourage public service. "Wouldn't it be nice if all private sector businesses offered their employees the opportunity to pursue public service workor work at a nonprofit or educational institutionwithout giving up income or other benefits that they may have earned?" he writes. But readers suggest his argument rests on wobbly logic. "These pay packages obviously serve as incentives for their ex-employee such that the firm gets favorable treatment," writes one. "To suggest that these payments enable these executives to serve in government is hogwash and ridiculously insulting."
Lending Club plans to price its initial public offering at $10 to $12 per share, according to the alternative lender's recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company could raise up to $692.4 million. "A lot is riding on the company's initial offering," the paper reports. "Should it succeed, other alternative lenders, including competitors like Prosper Marketplace and the small-business specialist OnDeck Capital, might also look to tap institutional investors for millions of dollars in their own market debuts."