Wall Street Journal
Federal prosecutors are on an international hunt for U.S. tax dodgers. Credit Suisse, which last week pleaded guilty to helping Americans evade taxes, has agreed to relinquish some records that will help authorities sniff out individuals who have hidden money in foreign accounts. Meanwhile, roughly 100 Swiss banks "have applied to join a Justice Department program that allows them to voluntarily turn over records about possible undisclosed U.S. accounts." The Justice Department may extend the deadline for the program, which was set to end next month. Perhaps tax shelters are about to get a lot more rickety?
Bank of America discovered its $4 billion accounting blunder thanks in part to a change in wording on the Federal Reserve's instructions on how to calculate regulatory capital. The new wording "clarified which kinds of losses on debt securities a bank shouldn't exclude from its calculations," according to the Journal.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is aiming to shift stock trading toward exchanges and away from private trading venues with the launch of a new pilot program. Regulators have worried about the rise of private platforms like dark pools, which obscure information about the size and price of traders' orders.
More small business owners are falling prey to advance-fee loan schemes, in which they pay upfront fees in exchange for assistance securing bank loans that never materialize. This kind of scam has become increasingly common in the aftermath of the financial crisis as small businesses faced tighter lending standards. A record 53,833 complaints about advance-fee loans and credit arrangers were filed with the Federal Trade Commission in 2013, up from 43,070 in 2012 and 44,504 in 2011.
Just how nervous should traditional lenders be about the prospect of alternative banking services offered by well-known companies? Beads of sweat may be justified, according to two new reports from the consultancy firm Accenture. Respondents in Accenture's survey of 4,000 U.S. and Canadian customers said they would be likely to bank with a variety of companies including Square, PayPal, T-Mobile, Apple, Google, Costco and Wal-Mart. Overall, nearly 40% of respondents in the 18-34 year age range would be comfortable banking somewhere without a physical branch network.
The head of the International Monetary Fund condemned the financial industry for fighting reform in the aftermath of the financial crisis in a Tuesday speech. "While some changes in behaviour are taking place, these are not deep or broad enough," IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said in London. "The industry still prizes short-term profit over long-term prudence, today's bonus over tomorrow's relationship." Lagarde also emphasized the importance of ending the too-big-to-fail problem, calling for countries around the world to partner with each other and "put the global good of financial stability ahead of their parochial concerns." One FT commenter was unsettled by the implications behind Lagarde's criticisms. "For those of you who harbored any doubt, there it is: confirmation that the financial/banking sector is more powerful than the elected governments supposed to be capable of regulating them," wrote commenter Bogdan Gruz.
Financial software company Intuit has agreed to pay more than $300 million for bill-payment service Check Inc., an anonymouse told Reuters.