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Insider trading, the act of trading shares on the stock exchange to give you a financial advantage based on confidential information that you have acquired, maybe the most popular form of market abuse. Or, at least the most well-known. And it’s been going on for a long time: the first examples date back to the roaring ‘20s.
The USA was among the first to declare the practice of manipulating the market through simultaneous buy-sell transactions as illegal. Since the passage of the 1936 Commodity Exchange Act, nearly every country around the world has followed the USA’s lead in forbidding the practice of “wash trading.” Yet it’s still happening.
Given that it’s been over a decade since the 2008 Financial Crisis wiped out hundreds of financial institutions of all sizes, it’s time to ask, “Who will be the next scapegoat?” Perhaps it could be the brokerage houses in wholesale markets currently targeted by the FCA. Or one of the smaller to midsize banks who are not as well-equipped with regards to compliance systems and staff and hence, are more vulnerable to market abuse and financial crime risks.
Earlier this year, financial regulators at the New York Department of Financial Services assessed a $40 million fine against Standard Chartered Bank based on trading improprieties that took place between 2007 and 2013. The state regulators uncovered an extensive scheme among the bank’s forex traders that included price manipulation, collusion, and the unauthorized disclosure of privileged client information.
Regulators in the European Union have developed extensive rules requiring financial firms to monitor and manage transaction-related communications. But the digital age has changed the way people communicate. As a result, complying with the EU’s increasingly complex data monitoring and management rules often requires financial firms to monitor voice, video, in-person, and text communications. The technical challenges associated with managing this data aside, performing such extensive monitoring of customer and transaction-related data raises meaningful concerns regarding personal and financial privacy.
MiFID II (article 76) is approaching its one-year anniversary, and many companies are just now starting to understand its ongoing impacts on the way financial firms do business in Europe. Implementation of the new directive has ramped up over time, and Europe’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recently announced that it is ready to levy penalties against non-compliant firms. And, with industry research suggesting that 40% of firms remain out of compliance with MiFID II despite the over $2 billion already spent by Europe’s financial firms trying to get in line with its extensive requirements, a slew of regulatory enforcement actions may be just around the corner.