Receiving Wide Coverage ...
French Twist: Thought the story about BNP Paribas violating U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Iran and China was over? Not so much. Five months after the French bank agreed to plead guilty and fork over almost $9 billion, home-country prosecutors are investigating whether senior officials at the bank violated insider trading laws by selling stock while the U.S. sanctions probe was under way. The story was broken Tuesday by a French news outlet, which reported the insider-trading investigation is aimed at the bank's chairman, its honorary chairman, and its chief operating officer. While the probe is in its preliminary stages, and may still be dropped, it marks another unsightly turn in an already ugly saga. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times
Lawsky's Latest: After fining PricewaterhouseCoopers in August for allegedly making improper changes to a report that Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ hired the consulting firm to write, the New York Department of Financial Services announced a settlement Tuesday with the Japanese bank itself. Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi agreed to pay $315 million, which is on top of a $250 million penalty the bank was assessed in June over the underlying sanctions violation that was the topic of the consulting work. But what may have been surprising about Tuesday's announcement was the scope of the changes that Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky required of the Japanese bank. The bank will have to physically relocate its U.S. anti-money laundering compliance division to New York. "For an industry that prides itself on its global reach, on its ability to shift money across borders with the push of a button, this is a somewhat remarkable restriction," Jason Karaian writes for Quartz. "The NY DFS is now dictating how a big global bank should structure its compliance operations (and putting staff across the river in New Jersey won't do)." New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times
Forex Fallout Spreads: Another trader has been pulled into the international currency-rigging scandal. Frank Cahill has parted ways with Goldman Sachs following allegations that he was involved in the rate-setting plot during an earlier stint at HSBC. The major papers used different verbs to describe the circumstances of Cahill's departure from Goldman. The Wall Street Journal writes that he was "ousted." The New York Times reports that Cahill was "dismissed." And the Financial Times states, more ambiguously, that Cahill "left" his job.
Wall Street Journal
The Journal wasn't about to let Elizabeth Warren have the last word. One day after the liberal senator co-authored an op-ed with moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin about the Federal Reserve Board's two vacancies for the paper, its conservative editorial page fired back, arguing "the progressive play here is to make the Fed more dependent on politicians whose default is always easier money." The editorial doesn't mention Warren or Manchin by name, perhaps because their op-ed appeared in the same pages on Tuesday, but you don't have to read too far between the lines to understand the implication.
Goldman was Wall Street's top M&A banker this year, followed by Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup.
The world's fourth-largest credit-rating firm, privately held DBRS Ltd., is close to a deal to sell itself. The Journal reports that Carlyle Group and two other private equity firms are among the short-listed bidders.
"5 Reasons to Still Go Into a Bank Branch" will be a depressing read for branch employees. Among the reasons given: "Get a document notarized," "Turn in a jar of pennies," and "Purchase travelers checks." For some reason the list doesn't include, "Learn what banking was like in the olden days."
In an interview, Citizens Bank Chief Executive Officer Bruce Van Saun discusses his bank's efforts to bolster revenue and cut costs amid its spin-off from the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Columnist Martin Wolf doesn't see a remedy on the horizon for the weak demand that is hampering economic growth in both Japan and the Eurozone. His outlook for the U.S. is only a bit rosier "even the 6 percent rise in real demand in the U.S. over more than six years is pathetic by historical standards."
New York Times
A U.S. Senate committee will hold a hearing Wednesday afternoon on consumer scams that rely on prepaid cards. Scheduled to testify are executives from the prepaid companies Green Dot, InComm and Blackhawk Network.
For two years, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been dragging its feet rather than writing crowdfunding regulations, according to a column by UC-Berkeley law professor Steven Davidoff Solomon. He writes, the federal delay has prompted numerous states to establish their own rules, which apply when residents of a particular state want to make an investment in a company based in that same state. So what types of businesses have been getting crowdfunding? Quite often, craft breweries. "Who doesn't want to invest in their own beer?" Solomon writes.
Customer satisfaction scores for the U.S. banking industry fell in 2014, which almost offset two years of improvement, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Many of the report's complaints will be familiar: bank fees are too high, it's hard for customers to get clear information, and the interest paid on deposit accounts remains pitiful. Other gripes, such as the inconvenience caused by branch closures, seem likely to intensify in the coming years. One more hopeful note: "technology can majorly improve customer satisfaction."