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Wednesday, 06 February 2019

South Africa Competition Commission looking into “impact” of US Standard Chartered fine

South Africa’s Competition Commission said in a statement on 5 January that it “will consider the impact” of a 29 January consent order in which Standard Chartered agreed to pay a fine of $40 million to the New York Department of Financial Services after pleading guilty to manipulating currency, including the South Africa rand, between 2007 and 2013. 

The South African competition watchdog is currently seeking to prosecute 14 banks, including Standard Chartered, for allegedly fixing the exchange of US and South African currency. In February 2017, the commission referred the banks to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution. 

The banks are currently fighting against the prosecution by claiming the tribunal lacks the jurisdiction to try them.

European Commission recommends negotiations to improve international exchange of electronic evidence

The European Commission has proposed that the European Council enter into two international negotiations to improve the cross-border exchange of electronic data during investigations.  

In a statement on 5 February, the commission said that the council should seek to enter into negotiations with the US to shorten the time period for sharing data across the Atlantic from 10 months to 10 days.

The commission also said that the council should seek to enter into negotiations to further strengthen the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, a multilateral treaty on cybercrime with 62 signatories, by enhancing mutual legal assistance and setting up joint investigations. 

UK audit regulator denies dismissing HBOS whistleblower

The head of the UK Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has denied that the regulator brushed off a whistleblower who in April 2017 presented information that HBOS had understated the loan loss provisions in the bank’s 2007 figures, according to the Financial Times.

During a parliamentary hearing on 5 February, Stephen Hadrill reportedly denied that the FRC ignored Rob Kennedy, who worked on the bank’s corporate division just before the financial crisis. However, the Financial Times claims to have seen documents that suggest the FRC did little to follow up Kennedy’s information.

HBOS collapsed in 2008 and was bought by Lloyds Banking Group. The FRC closed its investigation into the conduct of KPMG’s 2007 audit of HBOS in September 2017, concluding that the firm’s work did not fall significantly short of reasonable standards. 

Trafigura agrees to keep email archives of former execs charged with bribery in Brazil

Trafigura has told Brazilian prosecutors that it will comply with their request to preserve the emails of Mariano Marcondes Ferraz and Marcio Pinto Magalhães, two of the oil trader’s former executives charged with bribing officials from Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petrobras. 

According to reports, Trafigura’s counsel submitted a court filing on 4 February which read that “the emails currently on the relevant accounts are being preserved”.

The Switzerland-based company refused to disclose the emails to the prosecutors in early January citing EU data protection laws.

Prosecutors charged Ferraz and Magalhães, who deny the allegations, on 14 December, after opening investigations into three oil trading companies including Trafigura that same month. Trafigura has previously declined to comment on the investigation. 

FBI raids Puerto Rico bank in Venezuela sanctions probe

FBI agents have raided Banco San Juan Internacional (BSJI) over suspicions that the Puerto Rico bank was used to launder money from an entity or individual in Venezuela in violation of US sanctions, according to the Associated Press

FBI spokesperson Luis Rivera-Santana reportedly told the Associated Press that the US law enforcement agency had a search warrant on 6 February to identify money linked to sanctioned entities and individuals.  

So far no one has been arrested. BSJI has not yet commented on the matter. 

Canadian bank ordered to pay £1.2 million to London whistleblower

The Royal Bank of Canada(RBC) has been ordered to pay more than £1.2 million in compensation to a former employee who said he lost his job in London after reporting compliance shortcomings at the Toronto-based bank, according to news website Financial News.

Financial News said that RBC was ordered to pay the compensation to former trader John Banerjee in July 2018. 

Banerjee launched a £13 million lawsuit against RBC in 2018, claiming he had been fired in 2016 after expressing concern about the bank’s box-ticking compliance culture. RBC previously denied the allegations and said that Banerjee had been dismissed because of poor time-keeping. 

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