Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, EU Deal: Compliance

Credit Suisse Group AG moved to blame a small number of employees after a U.S. Senate report said the Swiss lender helped clients hide as much as $10 billion of assets from tax authorities.

Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan, who testified yesterday with other Credit Suisse bank executives before a U.S. Senate subcommittee in Washington, described the bank’s remediation efforts and attributed the misconduct to “a small group of Swiss-based private bankers” who violated the bank’s compliance policies.

Credit Suisse helped American clients hide as much as $10 billion in assets from the Internal Revenue Service, more than twice the amount previously known, according to the report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The panel criticized the Zurich-based bank for failing to discipline any senior executives in the face of widespread evasion fostered by 1,800 Credit Suisse employees serving U.S. clients. Of those, only 10 have been disciplined and none was fired, according to the report.

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Compliance Policy

Study Finds SEC Staff Sold Shares Before Settlements Made Public

People working for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission who owned stock in companies under investigation were more likely to sell shares than other investors in the months before the agency announced it was taking enforcement actions, according to a new academic paper.

SEC employees holding shares of five firms including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and General Electric Co. in 2010 and 2011 sold stock in 62 percent of the trades they initiated, compared with 50 percent among all the investors who traded those shares in that period, Emory University accounting professor Shivaram Rajgopal reports in the paper.

Rajgopal, who planned to present the work yesterday at a University of Virginia accounting seminar, said in a telephone interview that while the analysis doesn’t prove misconduct it points out a suspicious pattern.

The records, obtained from the SEC under a Freedom of Information Act request with a co-author, don’t identify individuals. The researchers couldn’t tell if the SEC employees made or lost money on the transaction or if they might have advance knowledge of actions that could push stock prices lower.

He analyzed records of 7,200 trades from 2009 to 2011. Since 2009, most of the SEC’s 4,000 employees have had to report their investments and trades to the agency.

John Nester, an SEC spokesman, declined to comment on the study.

EU Brokers Deal to Boost Non-Financial Corporate Reporting

European Union lawmakers and national governments agreed on a law to force some companies with more than 500 employees to provide more information on their social and environmental performance, the European Commission said in an e-mail.

Companies covered by the law will have to disclose information relating to environmental, social and employee matters such as respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on boards of directors, the EU said.

The draft law doesn’t include proposals that would require companies to give country-by-country data on profits, taxes and subsidies, the commission said.

Compliance Action

JPMorgan, Goldman, 16 Other Firms to End Analyst Surveys

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. were among 18 financial firms that agreed to stop participating in some surveys of analyst sentiment while New York investigates early access to the information.

The firms will stop answering analyst surveys by “certain elite, technologically sophisticated clients at the expense of others,” according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The interim pacts are part of efforts to combat advantages secured by investors who get to see potentially market-moving data before other traders.

Schneiderman requested that the firms stop participating in the surveys while he conducts an industrywide investigation into early access to analyst sentiment. The interim deals reached by Schneiderman apply to coverage of companies listed on U.S. exchanges, according to the statement.

Spokesmen for JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Morgan Stanley Agrees to Pay $275 Million to Resolve SEC Probe

Morgan Stanley agreed to pay the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission $275 million to resolve an investigation into the sale of subprime mortgage-backed securities in 2007.

The SEC hasn’t presented the proposed accord to the commission and offered no assurance it will be accepted, the New York-based bank said Feb. 25 in an annual regulatory filing. The firm said it’s also responding to subpoenas and requests for information from federal and state regulators in mortgage-related matters.

Morgan Stanley listed nine legal matters it resolved or settled since October, stating its litigation costs more than tripled to $1.95 billion in 2013.

The bank agreed this month to pay $1.25 billion to settle a U.S. regulator’s claims that the investment bank sold faulty mortgage-backed securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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