Banker Murders Probe, ‘Most Feared’ Poll: Compliance

Rakhat Aliyev, the ex-husband of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, was charged in Austria in connection with the murder of two Kazakh bankers.

Vienna prosecutors filed the charges Dec. 29, a spokesman, Thomas Vecsey, said in a telephone interview. He declined to elaborate on the nature of the charges before all lawyers in the case have been officially notified.

Aliyev, 52, has been in a Vienna jail since he surrendered to authorities in June. Kazakhstan charged Aliyev, a former diplomat serving in the Austrian capital, with kidnapping the Kazakh bankers in 2007. He was tried in absentia in 2008 for plotting a coup and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

Austria refused to extradite Aliyev because he couldn’t be guaranteed a fair trial in his home country and started its own investigation into the case.

Aliyev owned a stake in Nurbank OJSC at the time Kazakh authorities alleged he kidnapped Chief Executive Officer Abilmazhen Gilimov and his deputy, Zholdas Timraliyev. Their bodies were discovered on the outskirts of Almaty in May 2011.

Aliyev has denied the charges. His Austrian lawyer, Stefan Prochaska, didn’t return a call seeking comment on the case.

Kazakh prosecutors also reopened a probe into the murder of an opposition leader last year after the convicted killer changed his testimony and accused Aliyev of ordering the attack. Altynbek Sarsenbayev was gunned down in February 2006 along with his assistant and driver.

Compliance Action

SEC Unveils Pilot Program to Aid Analysis of Financial Data

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the launch of a pilot program aimed at facilitating investor analysis and comparisons of public-company financial statement information, the agency said in a statement.

As part of the new program, data that companies provide in structured, or machine-readable, formats will be combined and organized into structured data sets posted on the SEC’s website and available for use by academics and investors.

The data sets will include financial statement data from so-called extensible business reporting language exhibits, known as XBRL, as they are filed with the agency. They will be expanded next year to include information from footnotes to the financial statements.

Courts

Morgan Stanley Said to Near Mortgage-Bond Accord With U.S.

Morgan Stanley is in talks with the U.S. to resolve an investigation into the bank’s creation and sale of mortgage-backed bonds, the latest in a string of Wall Street cases tied to the 2008 financial crisis, a person familiar with the matter said.

An agreement could be reached within the first few months of 2015, said the person, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. The amount of a possible settlement isn’t clear.

A settlement would add Morgan Stanley to a growing list of banks to face federal sanctions over mortgage practices in the run-up to the collapse in housing prices. In August, Bank of America Corp. agreed to pay $16.7 billion for misrepresenting the quality of bonds backed by home loans. Citigroup Inc. reached a $7 billion deal in July, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. struck a $13 billion accord last year.

Morgan Stanley has said for years that it faces government inquiries into how it handled home loans and related investment products. In a November regulatory filing, the firm said that some cases had reached “advanced stages.” The investigations focus in part on the firm’s due diligence on loans it bought and disclosures to investors.

The Justice Department’s case follows other regulatory actions against Morgan Stanley over similar allegations.

Mary Claire Delaney, a spokeswoman for New York-based Morgan Stanley, and Patrick Rodenbush, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to comment.

The case is Adkins v. Morgan Stanley, 12-cv-7667, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Interviews/Studies

SEC’s White ‘Most Feared’ U.S. Regulator in 2014, WSJ Poll Finds

Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White was the “most feared” U.S. regulator this year, according to a poll of 280 respondents taken by the Wall Street Journal.

White garnered 38 percent of votes, followed by New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky, with 27 percent, according to the poll. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray was in third place with 20 percent of votes.

The top compliance issue of the year was the spread of regulatory action beyond U.S. borders, with 34 percent identifying this topic as their chief concern, the newspaper reported.

The top compliance-related crisis of 2014, chosen 54 percent of the time by respondents, was the advent of hacking events at Target Corp., Home Depot Inc. and Sony Corp. That response was more than double the second-place finisher: the scandal surrounding the London interbank offered rate.

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