U.K. Migrants, Uber Battles, Treasury Nominee: Compliance

The U.K. government is introducing new regulations to prevent illegal migrants from opening bank accounts.

The rules, part of the Immigration Act, will block banks from opening current accounts for immigrants who are on the anti-fraud Cifas database, which identifies them as having no permission to enter or remain in Britain, the Home Office said in an e-mailed statement Dec. 12 in London.

With five months to go before elections, Prime Minister David Cameron is keen to show he’s tough on immigration as he seeks to win back voters who have defected to the U.K. Independence Party. In a speech last month, he raised the prospect of Britain’s leaving the European Union unless fellow members agreed to let him restrict access to welfare payments for migrants from the bloc.

Under the new measures, if a bank fails to comply, the Financial Conduct Authority will have the power to impose financial penalties, restrict a firm’s deposit-taking permissions, or even impose criminal sanctions.

Courts

Lockheed Faces Pension-Mismanagement Trial Over Fees, Returns

Lockheed Martin Corp., builder of the Orion spacecraft that may one day take people to the Mars, is fighting claims it mismanaged retirement benefits because employees ended up with smaller returns from company stock than outside investors.

The workers accuse the aerospace and defense contracting company’s in-house investment manager in a lawsuit of subjecting them to excessive fees and under-delivering on performance. That allowed outside investors to earn better returns than participating employees, they say.

Lockheed’s retirement plans serve about 120,000 employees and retirees and manage $26 billion in assets, said Jerome Schlichter, a lawyer for the workers. The company calls the plans “among the nation’s largest and most complex.”

Eight years after the lawsuit was filed, Lockheed will face off against Schlichter’s firm at a nonjury trial set to start tomorrow in federal court in East St. Louis, Illinois.

Employees and retirees claim they were charged “unreasonable and excessive” fees that weren’t incurred solely for their benefit and weren’t disclosed, according to an amended complaint filed in 2011.

Lockheed and its investment management company are also accused of mismanaging employee 401(k) plans, including by offering a fund that didn’t benefit people saving for retirement.

The company has denied the allegations.

“Lockheed Martin’s position has remained constant and we believe that all allegations of improper management of our 401(k) savings plans are false,” Jennifer Allen, a spokeswoman for the Bethesda, Maryland-based company, said in an e-mailed statement. “We remain committed to defending against the allegations at all stages of the litigation.”

The case is Abbott v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 06-cv-00701, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis).

Interviews/Commentary

Uber Regulatory Battles Are Great Marketing, Kedrosky Says

Uber Technologies Inc. is fending off numerous legal challenges in the U.S. and Europe while keeping on its path of expansion. Bloomberg’s Paul Kedrosky examined the impact of Uber’s regulatory battles on “Market Makers.”

He discussed the specifics of the regulatory challenges facing Uber, and more broadly, whether the issues being raised are purely local or there is contagion among markets around the world.

Uber dodged a legal setback Dec. 12 in Paris when a judge refused to block its UberPop service, which lets users get rides with private cars.

Last week, San Francisco-based Uber also was sued by the district attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco over claims it makes false assurances about drivers’ background checks. That followed a ban in Spain, while Rio de Janeiro declared the service illegal and the Netherlands halted its ride-sharing service.

Uber faced another legal attack Dec. 12 in Brussels as the city made a criminal complaint against the car-booking service and urged police to close down its website.

For the video, click here.

Comings and Goings

CEOs Back Weiss for Treasury to Counter Critics of Finance Work

Antonio Weiss’s bid to be U.S. Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance was endorsed by more than 60 business leaders, including Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman and BlackRock Inc.’s Laurence D. Fink, as four former holders of the position also said he’s well-qualified for the job.

Members of the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit group of almost 300 chief executive officers, endorsed him in a letter Dec. 12 in New York, describing him as a “strong, smart and effective” voice for financial regulation.

The letter, and a separate one dated Dec. 11 from the former undersecretaries in Washington, were addressed to senators Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, and Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, both leaders on the Finance Committee responsible for vetting nominees for the position. Hatch is expected to become chairman when Republicans take control of the Senate in January.

The show of support comes after seven senators voiced opposition to Weiss, criticizing his Wall Street experience and, in particular, his work on corporate tax inversions. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has said Weiss isn’t qualified because much of his career was spent working on international deals.

Former Treasury officials Jeffrey Goldstein, Mary Miller, Robert Steel and Randal Quarles wrote in their letter that Weiss’s eight years of work in Europe are “a distinct asset, as the world is financially interconnected from a regulatory and market perspective,” and that they know the memory of the financial crisis is “fresh in his mind.”

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