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Paul Merrell

JPMorgan to pay record $920 million to resolve trading probes - 0 views

  • JPMorgan Chase is set to pay a record $920 million to resolve probes from three federal agencies over its role in the manipulation of global markets for metals and Treasurys.The figure was released Tuesday morning by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in a statement from Commissioner Dan Berkovitz. Last week, news reports indicated that the New York-based bank was nearing a settlement of almost $1 billion.The penalty is a record for spoofing, which is when sophisticated traders flood markets with orders that they have no intention of actually executing. The practice was banned after the 2008 financial crisis and regulators have made it a priority to stamp out.Of the $920 million, $436.4 million is a criminal monetary penalty, $172 million is a “criminal disgorgement amount” and $311.7 million is for victim compensation, according to the Department of Justice.
  • JPMorgan Chase is set to pay a record $920 million to resolve probes from three federal agencies over its role in the manipulation of global markets for metals and Treasurys.The figure was released Tuesday morning by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in a statement from Commissioner Dan Berkovitz. Last week, news reports indicated that the New York-based bank was nearing a settlement of almost $1 billion.The penalty is a record for spoofing, which is when sophisticated traders flood markets with orders that they have no intention of actually executing. The practice was banned after the 2008 financial crisis and regulators have made it a priority to stamp out.Of the $920 million, $436.4 million is a criminal monetary penalty, $172 million is a “criminal disgorgement amount” and $311.7 million is for victim compensation, according to the Department of Justice.
  • The bank, the biggest U.S. lender by assets, has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ that will expire in three years if the firm satisfies its obligations under the deal. 
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  • In his statement, the CFTC’s Berkovitz said he opposed the ruling from his agency that JPMorgan’s actions “should not result in any disqualifications under the ‘bad actor’ provisions of the securities laws.” He is apparently referring to the fact that the settlement isn’t expected to result in business restrictions on other areas of the firm.
  • The bank also has quietly settled a long-running lawsuit that accused the bank of manipulating precious metals markets with “spoofing” trades. The lawsuit was filed in 2015 by Daniel Shak, the hedge fund operator and high-stakes poker player, and two metals traders, Mark Grumet and Thomas Wacker.The three plaintiffs had accused JPMorgan of manipulating the silver futures market from 2010 through 2011 through spoofing trades. Details of the settlement were not disclosed in court filings.
  • In September 2019, federal prosecutors charged Nowak and two other former JPMorgan precious metals traders, Gregg Smith and Christopher Jordan, with participating in a racketeering conspiracy in connection with a multiyear scheme to manipulate the markets and defraud customers, as well as other crimes related to alleged spoofing.A superseding indictment was filed in the criminal case two months later, adding another defendant, ex-JPMorgan executive Jeffrey Ruffo, who had worked in hedge fund sales on the firm’s precious metals desk.All four defendants have pleaded not guilty. Trial in that case is scheduled to begin next April in Chicago federal court.
  • The CFTC noted in their press release that the agency continues to pursue civil litigation against Nowak and  Smith, for spoofing and attempted price manipulation.Although Shak’s lawsuit has been settled, JPMorgan still faces a class action lawsuit related to alleged spoofing in the precious metals markets.
Paul Merrell

FinCEN Files: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren join watchdog groups in calling for b... - 0 views

  • Prominent U.S. senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have joined watchdog groups and banking regulators in calling for a crackdown on dirty money and banks that profit from it in the wake of the FinCEN Files investigation. Sanders and Warren, former candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination who both inspired strong support on the left, called for tougher consequences for banks and their executives who move money linked to crime and corruption.
  • Sanders’ messages came less than a day after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ release of FinCEN Files, a global investigation revealing how leading banks allowed trillions of dollars in tainted money to flow freely through the financial system. Based on more than 2,100 secret reports filed by banks to the U.S. Department of Treasury and obtained by BuzzFeed News, the investigation included more than 400 journalists in 88 countries around the world. Warren also called for a crackdown on banks that are complicit in the spread of dirty money, highlighting policy proposals that would strengthen the ability of law enforcement to combat white collar crime. Warren called for the creation of a new unit in the U.S. Treasury Department to investigate financial crimes linked to the flow of dirty money. She also pushed for the passage of the Ending Too Big to Jail Act, a law she proposed in 2018 that would make it easier to hold Wall Street executives criminally accountable when the banks they lead engage in illegal activity.
  • Elizabeth Rosenberg, a former sanctions official for the U.S. Treasury Department, said the revelations exposed the national security threats posed by banks’ laxity. “The FinCEN Files illustrate the alarming truth that an enormous amount of illicit money is sloshing around our financial system, and that U.S. banks play host and facilitator to rogues and criminals that represent some of America’s most insidious national security threats,” Rosenberg told the Wall Street Journal. Rosenberg urged the passage of stronger transparency laws that crack down on the use of anonymous companies, which are often used for money laundering.
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  • Legislation that would end shell companies by creating a national registry of the real, flesh-and-blood owners of all U.S. companies enjoys overwhelming support in both parties, but remains stalled in the U.S. Senate due to a packed schedule and partisan dysfunction, ICIJ reported in August.
Paul Merrell

Malaysia Drops Criminal Charges Against Goldman After $3.9BN 1MDB Penalty | Zero Hedge - 0 views

  • After agreeing to pay a whopping $3.9 billion in fines and restitution, Goldman Sachs has finally been freed from one of its biggest albatrosses for its international business: Malaysian prosecutors have dropped all criminal charges in the 1MDB episode.
  • Reuters reports that, on Friday morning local time, Malaysian prosecutors announced that they would be withdrawing criminal charges against three Goldman Sachs units accused of misleading investors over a series of bond sales worth a combined $6.5 billion which helped fund the ill-fated sovereign wealth fund 1MDB (it stands for 1Malaysia Development Berhad). The Goldman subsidiaries based in London, Hong Kong and Singapore had pleaded not guilty to criminal charges back in February and the bank has consistently denied wrongdoing, though gallons of ink have been spilled about the alleged skulduggery that reportedly involved officials as senior as CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Now, the bank needs to settle things with the DoJ, which is also pursuing a criminal investigation. The DoJ estimates that $4.5 billion was siphoned from the fund by a group of insiders led by the fugitive financier Jho Low, the alleged mastermind, and former PM Najib Razak, who received hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds from the fraud. Late last year, the bank was reportedly on the verge of a settlement with US authorities for roughly $2 billion, but those talks have reportedly fallen apart.
Paul Merrell

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - 2 views

  • Article 17 1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. 2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
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Paul Merrell

Ex-Wells Execs Hit With $59MM In Fines Over Fake Account Scandal; Stumpf Barred For Lif... - 0 views

  • Nearly four years after Wells Fargo's reputation was terminally crushed by the humiliating fake accounts scandal, the punishment for Warren Buffett's favorite bank and its (mostly former) employees is still being doled out, and moments ago the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced $59 million in civil charges and settlements with eight former Wells Fargo senior executives on Thursday, including the payment of a $17.5 million fine by John Stumpf, the bank’s former CEO, who also agreed to a lifetime industry ban. Carrie Tolstedt, who led Wells Fargo’s community bank for a decade, faces a penalty of as much as $25 million.
Paul Merrell

Turkey Joins Russia's Ruble-Based Alternative To SWIFT | Zero Hedge - 1 views

  • After repeated warnings over the past couple of years, Turkey and Russia have signed a pact to increase use of the ruble and lira in cross-border payments, with Turkey signing on to Russia's alternative to SWIFT, the international telecommunications protocol used by banks and central banks the world over. Though SWIFT is an international cooperative owned by its members, with more than 10,000 banks worldwide relying on its system for handling sizable inter-bank transactions, the safety of the network was brought into question after a series of cyberattacks in 2015 and 2016 resulted in the theft of $101 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh. For the first time since SWIFT's laucnh, the hacks stoked doubts about the system's safety, and prompted many US rivals, including Russia, to ramp up work on their alternatives to SWIFT.
  • In addition to Turkey, China and Russia have signed agreements to bolster trade between the two countries, including settling a larger percentage of their bilateral trade in rubles and renminbi. For China, bilateral trade with Russia grew from $69.6 billion in 2016 to $107.1 billion last year. China is Russia's biggest partner for imports and exports. There has also been talk about India joining Russia's SWIFT alternative as Washington continues to threaten New Delhi with sanctions over its decision to purchase Russian-made missile-defense systems. According to Reuters, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov signed the agreement with Ankara on Tuesday. The agreement, signed on Oct. 4, will encourage the two countries to start using Russia's system in mutual settlements.
Paul Merrell

Rail Recession: Carloads Tumble To Thee-Year Lows Amid Manufacturing Implosio... - 1 views

  • As manufacturing plummets to the weakest levels since September 2009 and new export orders collapse, the US railroad industry has jus seen carload volumes tumble to three-year lows, according to a weekly report from the Association of American Railroads (AAR), first reported by Bloomberg on Monday.  AAR's report showed a decline in carloads for 3Q19, down 5.5%, and one of the most significant drops in three years, indicating that the US economy continues to decelerate into year-end. Most of the shipment declines were seen in autos, coal, grain, chemicals, and consumer goods, but there was a small improvement in crude oil shipments.
  • Bloomberg blames the trade war between the US and China for the rail recession.
Paul Merrell

U.S. manufacturing industry is in a recession now - Los Angeles Times - 1 views

  • During President Trump’s first two years in office, his standing with many voters was buoyed by a surge in manufacturing that helped create millions of new jobs and undergirded the whole U.S. economy.But today, manufacturing has plunged into recession and is threatening to pull down other sectors, perhaps hitting hardest on supporters in those states that helped put Trump in office.Impeachment may be dominating the news, but the less-noticed industrial slump ultimately could pose a greater threat to Trump’s reelection.
Paul Merrell

For most Americans, real wages have barely budged for decades | Pew Research Center - 0 views

  • On the face of it, these should be heady times for American workers. U.S. unemployment is as low as it’s been in nearly two decades (3.9% as of July) and the nation’s private-sector employers have been adding jobs for 101 straight months – 19.5 million since the Great Recession-related cuts finally abated in early 2010, and 1.5 million just since the beginning of the year. But despite the strong labor market, wage growth has lagged economists’ expectations. In fact, despite some ups and downs over the past several decades, today’s real average wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago. And what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to the highest-paid tier of workers.
  • The disconnect between the job market and workers’ paychecks has fueled much of the recent activism in states and cities around raising minimum wages, and it also has become a factor in at least some of this year’s congressional campaigns.
  • After adjusting for inflation, however, today’s average hourly wage has just about the same purchasing power it did in 1978, following a long slide in the 1980s and early 1990s and bumpy, inconsistent growth since then. In fact, in real terms average hourly earnings peaked more than 45 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 had the same purchasing power that $23.68 would today.
Paul Merrell

Trump's Immigration Order Expands the Definition of 'Criminal' - The New York Times - 1 views

  • After President Trump signed two sweeping executive orders on immigration on Wednesday, most of the attention was on his plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico and to hold back money from “sanctuary cities.” But the most immediate effect may come from language about deportation priorities that is tucked into the border wall order. It offers an expansive definition of who is considered a criminal — a category of people Mr. Trump has said he would target for deportation. Immigration agents will now have wider latitude to enforce federal laws and are being encouraged to deport broad swaths of unauthorized immigrants.
  • Each presidential administration must decide who it considers a priority for deportation. Mr. Trump’s order focuses on anyone who has been charged with a criminal offense, even if it has not led to a conviction. He also includes, according to language in the order, anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense,” meaning anyone the authorities believe has broken any type of law — regardless of whether that person has been charged with a crime.Mr. Trump’s order also includes anyone who has engaged in “fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency,” a category that includes anyone who has used a false Social Security number to obtain a job, as many unauthorized immigrants do. Anyone who has received a final order to leave the country, but has not left, is also considered a priority.Finally, he allows the targeting of anyone who “in the judgment of an immigration officer” poses a risk to either public safety or national security. That gives immigration officers the broad authority they have been pressing for, and no longer requires them to receive a review from a supervisor before targeting individuals.
  • The order defines criminal loosely, and includes anyone who has crossed the border illegally — which is a criminal misdemeanor. Anyone who has abused any public benefits program is also considered a criminal under the order.The Obama administration, which deported nearly 400,000 people per year during its first five years, initially included those convicted of minor offenses such as shoplifting. But it later changed its policy to target primarily those who had been convicted of serious crimes, were considered national security threats or were recent arrivals. By the end of President Barack Obama’s time in office, around 90 percent of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants were not considered a priority for deportation. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, roughly 820,000 undocumented immigrants currently have a criminal record.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft's ElectionGuard a Trojan Horse for a Military-Industrial Takeover of US Elect... - 0 views

  • arlier this month, tech giant Microsoft announced its solution to “protect” American elections from interference, which it has named “ElectionGuard.” The election technology is already set to be adopted by half of voting machine manufacturers and some state governments for the 2020 general election. Though it has been heavily promoted by the mainstream media in recent weeks, none of those reports have disclosed that ElectionGuard has several glaring conflicts of interest that greatly undermine its claim aimed at protecting U.S. democracy. In this investigation, MintPress will reveal how ElectionGuard was developed by companies with deep ties to the U.S. defense and intelligence communities and Israeli military intelligence, as well as the fact that it is far from clear that the technology would prevent foreign or domestic interference with, or the manipulation of, vote totals or other aspects of American election systems.
Paul Merrell

Boondoggle, Inc. - LobeLog - 0 views

  • In its latest budget request, the Trump administration is asking for a near-record $750 billion for the Pentagon and related defense activities, an astonishing figure by any measure. If passed by Congress, it will, in fact, be one of the largest military budgets in American history, topping peak levels reached during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. And keep one thing in mind: that $750 billion represents only part of the actual annual cost of our national security state. There are at least 10 separate pots of money dedicated to fighting wars, preparing for yet more wars, and dealing with the consequences of wars already fought. So the next time a president, a general, a secretary of defense, or a hawkish member of Congress insists that the U.S. military is woefully underfunded, think twice. A careful look at U.S. defense expenditures offers a healthy corrective to such wildly inaccurate claims. Now, let’s take a brief dollar-by-dollar tour of the U.S. national security state of 2019, tallying the sums up as we go, and see just where we finally land (or perhaps the word should be “soar”), financially speaking.
  • Final tally: $1.2542 trillion So, our final annual tally for war, preparations for war, and the impact of war comes to more than $1.25 trillion — more than double the Pentagon’s base budget. If the average taxpayer were aware that this amount was being spent in the name of national defense — with much of it wasted, misguided, or simply counterproductive — it might be far harder for the national security state to consume ever-growing sums with minimal public pushback. For now, however, the gravy train is running full speed ahead and its main beneficiaries — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and their cohorts — are laughing all the way to the bank.
Paul Merrell

Four in 10 Americans Embrace Some Form of Socialism - 0 views

  • Americans today are more closely divided than they were earlier in the last century when asked whether some form of socialism would be a good or bad thing for the country. While 51% of U.S. adults say socialism would be a bad thing for the country, 43% believe it would be a good thing. Those results contrast with a 1942 Roper/Fortune survey that found 40% describing socialism as a bad thing, 25% a good thing and 34% not having an opinion.
Paul Merrell

A Wells Fargo personal banker pleaded guilty to helping launder millions of dollars for... - 0 views

  • A Wells Fargo banker pleaded guilty to knowingly opening bank accounts for people working with the Sinaloa cartel. Luis Figueroa of Tijuana admitted he took part in the money laundering scheme that stretched across the US. Money laundering organizations recruited people who would open bank accounts for the cartel's drug money, according to US investigators. The drug money would be deposited in amounts below the threshold for regulatory reporting into "funnel accounts."
Paul Merrell

Media Blackout as Israel's Largest Banks Pay Over $1 Billion in Fines for US Tax Evasio... - 1 views

  • Israel’s three largest banks — Hapoalim Bank, Leumi Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank — have all been ordered to pay record fines, which collectively are set to total over $1 billion, to the U.S. government after the banks were found to have actively colluded with thousands of wealthy Americans in massive tax-evasion schemes.
Paul Merrell

Russia ready to switch off Visa & Mastercard ahead of tougher US sanctions - RT Busines... - 2 views

  • Moscow faces prospects of harsher sanctions this coming January as the US Congress is set to discuss a new package of anti-Russian penalties. The Russian central bank has warned the country’s lenders over potential risks. The regulator has recommended that Russian financial institutions take the necessary preventive steps in case their partner-banks are forced to stop providing connection to services by the world’s two most used payment systems – Visa and Mastercard, reports Russian business daily Vedomosti.
  • The Central Bank of Russia advises that Russian banks should look for an alternative sponsor that will be able substitute a current provider of Visa and MasterCard services, seal a maintenance service contract and test an opportunity of integrating.
  • In response to sanctions Russia has developed its own national payment system. The Mir payment system was introduced in 2015 after clients of several Russian banks were temporarily unable to use Visa and Mastercard due to US sanctions. Customers found bank issued credit cards linked to Visa and Mastercard systems no longer worked. The country issued 37 million Mir cards as of June 2018.
Paul Merrell

230,000 "Jihadists" in 70 Countries: Since 9/11 the Number of Al Qaeda Affiliated Terro... - 3 views

  • Despite Washington’s extremely costly worldwide ‘War on Terror’, nearly four times as many Sunni Islamic militants are operating around the world today as on September 11, 2001, a new study has found. As many as 230,000 jihadists are spread across 70 countries, with the largest concentrations of terrorists located in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington DC think tank. The shocking reported spike in the number of Sunni jihadists worldwide raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the US-led Global War on Terrorism, which was launched in the wake of the deadly attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Paul Merrell

Russia liquidates nearly all its holdings of US debt & invests money in gold - RT Busin... - 0 views

  • The Central Bank of Russia has continued getting rid of US Treasury bonds in August. The share of Russian investments in American debt is getting close to zero. Russian investments in US securities as of August have fallen to just $14 billion. Back in 2011, Russia was one of the largest holders of US debt with a $180 billion investment.The reason is not only about politics and US sanctions against Russia, a broker at Otkritie bank Timur Nigmatullin told RIA Novosti. The US Federal Reserve is hiking interest rates, which makes American bonds cheaper, he said. “Russia has almost dropped out of the list of holders of US government debt, being the 54th largest holder.”
  • “A further sale of US Treasury bonds by Russia will most likely be compensated by buying gold and opening short-term deposits at banks,” he said. The share of precious metals in the country's foreign reserves has reached a record 18 percent, closely approaching the share of dollar investments.The largest investors in US debt, China and Japan, have also cut their holdings. Chinese holdings of US sovereign debt dropped to $1.165 trillion in August, from $1.171 trillion in July, marking the third consecutive month of declines. Japan has slashed its holdings of US securities to $1.029 trillion in August, the lowest since October 2011.
  • India and Turkey have followed Russia's lead. Turkey has dropped out of the top-30 list of holders of American debt, while India has been liquidating its investment for five consecutive months to $140 billion in August.
Paul Merrell

Venezuela drops US dollar, will use euro for international transactions - RT World News - 0 views

  • Venezuela is abandoning the US dollar, with all future transactions on the Venezuelan exchange market to be made in euro, Tareck El Aissami, the country's Vice President for Economy, announced. The sanctions, recently introduced by Washington against Caracas, “block the possibility of continuing to trade using the US dollar on the Venezuelan exchange market," El Aissami said, adding that the American restrictions were “illegal and against international law.” 
  • The American “financial blockade” of Venezuela affects both the country’s public and private sectors, including pharmacy and agriculture, and shows “just how far the imperialism can go in its madness,” the vice president said.Venezuela’s floating exchange rate system, Dicom, “will be operating in euro, yuan or any other convertible currency and will allow the foreign exchange market to use any other convertible currency," El Aissami said.The vice president added that all private banks in Venezuela are obliged to participate in the Dicom bidding system.The government is going to sell 2 billion euros between November and December to allow the public to purchase the European currency “at a real, non-speculative rate,” he said.
Paul Merrell

How Russia plans to disentangle its economy from US dollar - RT Business News - 0 views

  • The Russian Finance Ministry has announced a plan to wean the country of dollar dependence. It is expected to be a long and painful process. RT has asked analysts to explain how this could be done. According to the plan published this week, Russia seeks to de-dollarize the economy by 2024. The program is long and complicated, but its key point is that Russian exporters who use rubles instead of dollars would get huge taxation benefits including quicker VAT returns and other stimulus to ditch the greenback.
  • But there are also other ways to strengthen the role of the ruble in Russia. “It is necessary to gradually switch to such a system of international payments, which implies payment in rubles for Russia’s best and most popular goods on the world market like oil, gas and arms exclusively,” Andrey Perekalsky, analyst at financial institute FinIst, told RT.Russia should also unite with China and the European Union in creating a payment channel that can’t be controlled by the United States. The alternative to the SWIFT interbank settlement network that could bypass Iranian sanctions could be seen as a first step in that direction, the analyst notes.
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