Greece-Swiss Tax Talks, CFTC-New Zealand, FCA: Compliance

Greece’s difficulties with tax evasion were a topic of discussion yesterday when Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras met his Swiss counterpart Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf in Athens.

Stournaras expressed a desire for the “British model,” a reference to the 2011 withholding tax agreement between Switzerland and the U.K.

Talks on unreported Greek funds have dragged on since 2011 and progress toward an agreement would provide a boost for the Greek government, which vowed to clamp down on tax evasion as part of its 240 billion-euro ($324 billion) bailout from the euro area and the International Monetary Fund.

Discussions are aimed at finding a solution on how to deal with deposits retroactively and may be concluded “soon,” Widmer-Schlumpf said.

Switzerland is trying to shake off its reputation as a tax haven after amassing $2.2 trillion of assets from wealthy clients living outside the country. While no official numbers exist, Greeks may have hidden about 42 billion francs ($47 billion) in Swiss accounts, according to a 2009 report from Helvea SA, a Geneva-based brokerage.

Compliance Policy

CFTC Registration Improves U.S. Access to NZX Dairy Derivatives

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission registered NZX Ltd., the operator of the New Zealand Stock Exchange, as a Foreign Board of Trade, the company said in statement Feb. 3.

Registration will allow NZX to permit direct access to participants in the U.S. to trade dairy derivatives on its platform, NZX said.

Access from the U.S. will help to build liquidity, according to the company.

In August, NZX extended dairy derivative trading hours to overlap with U.S. and European trading, the company said.

Compliance Action

Ten Banks Have Handed Evidence to FCA on FX Trading Probe

Ten banks have given evidence to the U.K.’s markets watchdog in an investigation into manipulation of foreign-exchange benchmarks, Financial Conduct Authority Chief Executive Officer Martin Wheatley told lawmakers in London.

The allegations are “as bad as Libor,” Wheatley said, without naming any banks under investigation.

The FCA also is probing “a number of benchmarks that operate in London,” Wheatley said, without specifying which ones.

The foreign exchange probe probably won’t be concluded this year, he said.

Germany’s top financial regulator said Jan. 17 that possible manipulation of currency rates and prices for precious metals is worse than the Libor-rigging scandal, which has already led to fines of about $6 billion.


Martoma Jury Takes Up ‘Most Lucrative’ Insider Trading Case

A jury ended its first day of deliberations yesterday without reaching a verdict in the trial of former SAC Capital Advisors LP fund manager Mathew Martoma, accused by federal prosecutors of masterminding the most lucrative insider trading scheme in U.S. history.

Martoma’s trial began with jury selection Jan. 7 after federal investigators failed to persuade him to cooperate in their probe of SAC Capital and its owner Steven A. Cohen.

Deliberations in Manhattan federal court are set to continue today.

Martoma, 39, is accused of using secret information about clinical tests of bapineuzumab, an Alzheimer’s disease drug being developed by Elan Corp. and Wyeth LLC. Prosecutors say he traded on tips provided by two doctors supervising the tests. The $275 million scheme is the most lucrative ever charged against an individual, the U.S. said.

Martoma’s charged with two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy. The securities fraud charges each carry up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Martoma and Cohen sold a $700 million position in Elan and Wyeth within days after Martoma received detailed confidential results of the testing. Cohen, who denies wrongdoing, hasn’t been charged with a crime. He faces an administrative proceeding filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The case is U.S. v. Martoma, 12-cr-00973, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Comings and Goings

ICE Said to Hire KCG’s King as Senior Legal Adviser for NYSE

IntercontinentalExchange Group Inc. hired Elizabeth King from KCG Holdings Inc. to serve as a senior lawyer for the New York Stock Exchange, according to a person briefed on the matter.

King served as head of regulatory affairs at trading firm KCG and previously was an associate director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Trading and Markets, where she oversaw exchanges such as the NYSE. Her move to ICE comes as the SEC seeks to improve rules governing capital markets, according to a draft document from the regulator released yesterday.

Brookly McLaughlin, an ICE spokeswoman, didn’t reply to an e-mail seeking comment. King didn’t respond to a request to speak about the job change.

In addition to working at KCG, King serves as a board member of Chicago-based Options Clearing Corp., which processes U.S. equity derivatives trades.

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