Swiss Mortgages, Amazon Germany, U.K. Banks: Compliance

Swiss banks are planning stricter rules for mortgage lending, including shortening the period for loan repayments, to cool the real estate market and prevent regulators from introducing stricter capital requirements.

Loans will have to be repaid in regular installments to two-thirds of the collateral value within 15 years, compared with 20 years previously, the Swiss Bankers Association said in a statement yesterday. When valuing the properties, the banks will use the lower of the market value or purchase price, and a borrower’s secondary income will only be considered when evaluating affordability in case of joint liability, it said.

In a bid to prevent the market from overheating, the government in January forced banks to hold additional capital as a buffer against possible losses on home loans. The association will submit the revised rules for mortgage lending to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or Finma, for approval as the minimum standard. The association will submit the revised rules for mortgage lending to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority for approval as the minimum standard.

Finma Chief Executive Officer Mark Branson said last week that the Swiss mortgage market is one of the biggest risks facing the country’s financial system.

Compliance Action

Bonduelle, Prochamp Fined Over Canned Mushrooms Cartel Case

Bonduelle Group and Prochamp BV were fined by the European Commission for taking part in a cartel for canned mushrooms, according to an e-mailed statement from the commission.

Lutece Holding BV, which was a whistle blower on the cartel, was not fined, the commission said.

Bonduelle was fined EU30.2 million euros and Prochamp was fined 2 million euros, according to the regulator.

The commission said it continues to investigate Riberebro Integral SAU in the canned mushrooms case.

Bonduelle Group said May 19 it was sent a so-called statement of objections from EU antitrust regulators investigating competition concerns in markets for canned mushrooms and that it would respond to the objections.

Amazon Faces German Booksellers’ Antitrust Complaint on E-Books Inc. faces a complaint filed at Germany’s antitrust regulator claiming it’s unfairly wielding its market power against publishers.

The Boersenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the country’s association of booksellers, asked the Federal Cartel Office to probe Amazon’s negotiation practices when buying rights for e-books. Since March, Amazon has delayed deliveries of Bonnier Media’s physical books to force it to accept lower prices, the association said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Amazon, the biggest seller of e-books, has faced similar controversies in other markets, including a tussle with France’s Hachette Book Group. Amazon is seeking a bigger cut of the retail price of titles so it can continue discounting e-books and boost margins, three people familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

Amazon’s German press office didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

Finra Pulls Bonus-Disclosure Rule for Reworking After Complaints

Stockbrokers who switch firms will be able to keep their bonuses to themselves for at least a few months longer.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority withdrew a planned rule change that would have forced financial advisers who join new employers to tell their clients how much they got paid to do so.

Finra, the industry-funded group that enforces brokerage rules, plans to revise the proposal later this year, according to George Smaragdis, a spokesman. The additional time will allow Finra to address a large volume of comment letters received about the proposal, Smaragdis said.

When firms poach salesmen from one another, they tie bonuses to revenue generated by the new employees, a situation that Finra said may create a conflict of interest as the brokers strive to reach targets.

The rule change was criticized by the industry’s biggest trade groups, which said in comment letters that while the goal of increased disclosure was admirable, the rule would be hard and expensive to implement.

InvestmentNews reported on Finra’s withdrawn plan earlier.


U.K. Considering Licenses for 25 New Banks, Leadsom Says

U.K. financial regulators “are talking to 25 potential new banks” applying for licenses, Andrea Leadsom said.

Leadsom, a Conservative member of parliament, made the remarks during a speech in London.

“That is quite some change in a short space of time and is to be welcomed,” Leadsom said.

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