Nu Skin Probe, Besso Fine, EU Cartel Fines: Compliance

Nu Skin Enterprises Inc., the skin-care product seller that’s under investigation by China’s government, is suspending some promotional meetings and won’t accept new applications for sales jobs there.

Product refund and return policies will be extended in China in response to the scrutiny, the Provo, Utah-based company said March 18 in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Chief Executive Officer M. Truman Hunt has been defending his company after the Chinese government said it would investigate a report in the People’s Daily newspaper that Nu Skin is a “suspected illegal pyramid scheme.” Nu Skin also is conducting an internal operations review.

Hunt said in an interview following the report that Nu Skin is “absolutely not a pyramid scheme.”

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Compliance Action

FCA Fines Insurance Firm Besso for Inadequate Bribery Controls

The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority fined insurance broker Besso Ltd. 315,000 pounds ($524,000) for failing to have proper controls in place to prevent bribery, according to a statement posted on the regulator’s website.

Besso’s weak controls on sharing of commissions led to the risk they could be used for corrupt purposes, the FCA said in the statement. The insurer agreed to an early settlement and qualified for a 30 percent discount.

Companies Fined $1.33 Billion by EU in Ball-Bearings Cartel

SKF AB, Schaeffler AG, NTN Corp., NSK Ltd. and Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp. agreed to pay a combined 953.3 million euros ($1.33 billion) in fines to settle a European Union antitrust probe into automotive ball-bearings, the European Union said.

Jtekt Corp. escaped a penalty for blowing the whistle on the cartel, the European Commission said. Individual fines paid by the companies were Schaeffler, 370.5 million euros; SKF, 315.1 million euros; NTN, 201.4 million euros; NSK 62.4 million euros; and Nachi-Fujikoshi, 3.96 million euros.

Companies that agree to settle EU cartel cases receive a reduction of 10 percent of their fines, with additional discounts for aiding regulators.

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Ex-JPMorgan Trader Martin-Artajo Files Case Against U.K. FCA

Javier Martin-Artajo, the former JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker fighting U.S. extradition from Spain over trading losses that surpassed $6.2 billion, is challenging the U.K. financial regulator in London.

Martin-Artajo, who oversaw synthetic credit trading at the bank’s chief investment office in London, filed the case against the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority at a tribunal last week, according to the court’s website. No other details about the claim were available.

He was indicted in Manhattan federal court in September for allegedly helping to hide losses caused by Bruno Iksil, the Frenchman who became known as the London Whale. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a parallel lawsuit that Martin-Artajo and another trader engaged in a scheme to enhance the portfolio’s apparent performance in order to curry favor with supervisors.

Lara Joseph, a spokeswoman for the FCA, declined to comment. Lista Cannon, a lawyer for Martin-Artajo in London, and William Leone, his attorney in New York, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The cases are SEC v. Martin-Artajo, 13-cv-05677, and U.S. v. Martin-Artajo, 13-cr-00707, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).


Barnier Says EU Bonus-Curbs Delay Would Be ‘Gift’ to Bankers

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s financial-services chief, warned lawmakers not to hand bankers a “gift” by risking a delay in the start of bonus curbs scheduled to take effect next year.

He wants to win over legislators in the European Parliament who haven’t decided whether to block rules that determine which bank staff would be affected by a ban on bonuses greater than twice fixed pay. Unless the measures are swiftly approved, “banks will have an excuse to do nothing -- don’t give them this present,” Barnier said at a hearing yesterday in Brussels. “All of the risk-takers will be covered” by the rules, he said.

While the European Parliament can’t amend Barnier’s approach, it can reject it outright, forcing the commission to make a new proposal.

Themis Trading’s Saluzzi Says Dark Pools Are Like ‘Wild West’

Joe Saluzzi, a partner and co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading LLC, discussed the trading investigation opened by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman has started an investigation into the sale of products and services that offer faster access to data and richer information on trades than the information typically available to the public. His office is also looking into private trading venues, known as dark pools, and the strategies deployed by the high-speed traders themselves.

Saluzzi talked with Pimm Fox and Carol Massar on Bloomberg Radio’s “Taking Stock” on March 18. Keri Geiger of Bloomberg News also participated in the discussion.

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