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RBS Review, EU Bank Trading Ban, OTC Trades: Compliance

The U.K. markets regulator appointed two firms to investigate allegations that Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc pushed small businesses into default.

Promontory Financial Group LLC, a consulting firm, and the accountant Mazars will review RBS’s treatment of business customers in financial difficulty that was highlighted in a report of the bank last year, the Financial Conduct Authority said in a statement Jan. 17.

State-owned RBS charged companies advisory fees and bought their assets at reduced prices once they were in default, government consultant Lawrence Tomlinson said in a report published in November. The regulator will publish the findings in the third quarter.

The lender “will support the process in every way we can,” Jon Pain, RBS’s head of conduct and regulatory affairs, said in an e-mailed statement. The bank also hired the law firm Clifford Chance LLP to conduct an investigation into the issue.

Compliance Policy

EU Weighs Ban on Proprietary Trading at Some Banks From 2018

The largest banks in the European Union would face a “narrowly” defined ban on proprietary trading from 2018 under draft plans by Michel Barnier, the EU’s financial services chief.

Regulators would also have until then to gauge whether some banks should split off their trading activities into separately capitalized units, according to the European Commission document obtained by Bloomberg News.

The proprietary-trading ban would apply to banks if regulators identify them as “systemically important” at a global level or if they exceed certain financial thresholds, according to the undated document. The EU blueprint also includes measures to boost transparency in securities financing transactions.

Barnier has pledged to propose bank-structure rules before the end of his mandate later this year. Senior European Parliament lawmakers have already rejected his approach, adding to obstacles the proposals face before they could become law.

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Compliance Action

HKEx Seeks U.S. Permission to Clear OTC Trades by U.S. Parties

OTC Clear, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.’s over-the-counter derivatives clearinghouse, will seek “no action relief” from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the company said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News.

OTC Clear seeks to delay registering as a Derivatives Clearing Organization, or DCO, pending U.S. guidelines for exemptions. Registration as a DCO, or exemption, would allow U.S. parties to clear trades in Hong Kong and be in compliance with U.S. law.

The company will apply for exempt status or full registration as a DCO after the CFTC releases guidelines on exemption.

The Singapore Exchange said last month that it became the first Asian clearing house authorized as a DCO by a U.S. derivatives regulator.


Ex-Moore Capital Trader Faces Eight Insider-Dealing Charges

Julian Rifat, a former trader at Moore Capital Management LLC, faces eight insider-dealing charges. He is expected to appear at a London criminal court on Jan. 29 to be charged.

Rifat will be the ninth person to face charges in the investigation dubbed Operation Tabernula.

Rifat was an execution trader in the London office of Moore Capital, a New York-based firm that oversees about $12 billion. He has been under investigation since 2010.

Rifat’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges.

Eight other men have been charged in the probe.

Comings and Goings

Gold Fields Legal Chief Quits Amid SEC Probe Into Sale of Stake

Gold Fields Ltd. General Counsel Michael Fleischer quit amid a probe by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission into the sale of a stake in the company’s South Deep mine under a South African program to expand black ownership.

The board accepted his resignation and expressed appreciation to him for his years of service, Gold Fields said yesterday in a statement. The company said it “is committed to hiring a person that can help to implement the changes” needed after its own probe into the Black Economic Empowerment deal.

The company didn’t say why Fleischer, 52, resigned. He hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.

Gold Fields on Aug. 22 said the 2010 black empowerment deal to issue 600,000 shares and sell 10 percent of South Deep to a black-owned group didn’t “consistently meet the high standards set by Gold Fields.”

Convicted bank robber Gayton McKenzie, now a businessman and author, said Jan. 17 that he had worked on the deal and it benefited some of his acquaintances. He denied any wrongdoing.

The SEC is investigating the transaction in the U.S., where investors may buy Gold Fields via American depositary receipts.

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