Forex Review, Avon Probe, Citigroup Leaders: Compliance

The Financial Stability Board, a group of global regulators, started a review of foreign-exchange benchmarks following allegations that traders colluded to rig rates in the $5.3 trillion-a-day market.

The FSB created a group to review the process of setting the benchmarks, led by Guy Debelle, assistant governor for financial markets at the Reserve Bank of Australia, and Paul Fisher, executive director for markets at the Bank of England. It will present its findings later this year.

The committee will analyze how the benchmarks are used and “the functioning of the FX market,” the Basel, Switzerland-based group said in an e-mailed statement Feb. 14.

At least a dozen regulators on three continents are investigating whether traders in the world’s largest financial market colluded with counterparts to manipulate benchmarks. More than 20 traders have been fired or suspended across the industry.

The Bank of England said last week that it’s reviewing allegations its officials condoned practices at the heart of the currency-manipulation scandal.

Compliance Policy

GAO Joins CFPB in Concern Over College Debit/Prepaid Cards

Congress should consider requiring financial firms providing debit and prepaid card services to colleges to make public their agreements with schools to ensure terms are “fair and reasonable” for students and protect against conflicts of interest, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in December called on the financial firms to disclose agreements with schools marketing debit and prepaid products to students. Firms now make such disclosures about college credit cards.

The GAO said it found cases where card providers and schools appeared to encourage students to get a card as opposed to presenting neutral information about payment options.

Compliance Action

Japan’s SESC Recommends Fining Select Vantage for Market Rigging

Japan’s Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission recommended that the Financial Services Agency fine Select Vantage Inc. 60,000 yen ($585) for manipulating prices of Japanese stocks.

Select Vantage targeted shares of Hoshizaki Electric Co. and Torishima Pump Manufacturing Co. in April 2012, the SESC said in a statement.

Select Vantage is a proprietary-trading firm registered in Anguilla, the commission said.

Avon May Spend Up to $132 Million to Settle Bribe Investigation

Avon Products Inc., the world’s largest door-to-door seller of cosmetics, said it may spend as much as $132 million to resolve criminal and civil inquiries into whether it paid bribes in China and other countries.

About $77 million was added to a reserve for the potential settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department, bringing the total set aside for the matter to $89 million, New York-based Avon said Feb. 13. Potential settlements may exceed that amount by as much as $43 million, the company said.

The five-year-old probe has cast a pall over Avon, which has struggled with slowing growth.

Chief Executive Officer Sheri McCoy said negotiations with the government are continuing.

For more, click here.

Comings and Goings

Citigroup’s Helfer to Retire as Shohet Expands Regulatory Role

Citigroup Inc. said Vice Chairman Michael Helfer will retire next month and Zion Shohet will take on an expanded regulatory role.

Helfer, 68, who served as general counsel and corporate secretary earlier in his career, will join the board of Banamex, the lender’s Mexico unit, according to a Feb. 14 company memo.

The bank confirmed the memo’s contents.

Helfer joined New York-based Citigroup in 2003 and advised the firm through its near-collapse and $45 billion bailout, which it has since repaid. In 2012, he became vice chairman, focusing on U.S. and international regulations and overseeing implementation of Dodd-Frank Act rules.

Shohet, 45, will become global head of regulatory reform and implementation, expanding his current duties to include relations with international regulators, according to the memo.

Politico’s Morning Money blog reported the moves Feb. 14.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.