#AceFinanceNews – London) – October 07 – A senior banker from a UK bank has admitted conspiring to defraud over manipulating the Libor lending rate.
The banker, who can not be named for legal reasons, is the first person in the UK to plead guilty to the offence.
Two men have already pleaded guilty in the US to fraud offences linked to the rigging of Libor, for years the benchmark by which trillions of pounds of financial contracts are based.
The case arose from the Serious Fraud Office‘s (SFO) investigations.
It began looking into Libor manipulation in 2012 after it emerged that it was being widely abused by leading banks to manipulate rates in their favour.
The SFO’s investigation continues and 11 other individuals stand charged and await trial.
Seven banks and brokerages have settled regulatory allegations of interest rate rigging in the UK and the US after global investigations.
So far, 17 men have been charged with fraud-related offences.
Last month, Lloyds Banking Group dismissed eight staff members following an investigation into the behaviour of its rate setters.
The move follows the bank’s £218m fine in July for “serious misconduct” over the setting of Libor.
18 December 2012 Last updated at 09:21
Libor – what is it and why does it matter?
Libor, the London inter-bank lending rate, is considered to be one of the most important interest rates in finance, upon which trillions of financial contracts rest, and the exposure of its rigging has shocked many beyond the world of finance. Here, the BBC explains some of the key facts.
1. What is Libor?
A global benchmark interest rate used to set a range of financial deals. It is also a measure of trust in the financial system and the faith banks have in each other’s financial health.MortgagesLoansInter-bank
of trustReflects health
2. Why is it important?
The Libor, or London Interbank Offered Rate, is used to set a range of financial transactions worth an estimated $300 trillion.
Which is equivalent to approximately four and a half times global GDP
3. How is it set?Every day a group of leading banks submit rates for 10 currencies and 15 lengths of loan ranging from overnight to 12 months.
The most important is the three-month dollar Libor. The rates submitted are what the banks estimate they would pay other banks to borrow dollars for three months. This is a simple example of how it works.
Banks submit their rates 1% 2% 3% 4% The top and bottom quartiles are discarded 1%2%3% 4% An average is calculated of the remainder 2.5% This is Libor
4. How was it rigged?
Since the rates submitted are estimates not actual transactions it’s relatively easy to submit false figures.
Traders at several banks conspired to influence the Libor by getting colleagues to submit rates that were either higher or lower than their actual estimate.
1% 2% 3% 4% 1%2%3% 4%2.5% Lower average 2% 3% 4% 5% 2%3%4% 5%3.5% Higher average
Libor and the financial crisis
At the height of the financial crisis in late 2007, many banks stopped lending to each other over concerns about their financial health with some banks submitting much higher rates than others.
Barclays was one of those submitting much higher rates, attracting some media attention. This prompted comment that Barclays was in trouble.
Following much internal debate and a controversial conversation with a Bank of England official, Barclays began to submit much lower rates. You can see this in the graph below which compares the Libor rate with those submitted by Barclays.
Barclays’ Libor 3-month sterling submissions vs daily Libor fix
The Libor scandal has further undermined trust in banks. The deputy governor of the Bank of England called the Libor market a “cesspit”.
While those paying interest on loans would have benefited from lower Libor rates, savers and investors would have lost out.
Regulators in Canada, US, Japan, Switzerland, Britain are investigating the rate rigging.
Lawsuits have been launched by US municipalities, pension funds and hedge funds.
Note: The estimated figure for the value of transactions connected to Libor has been revised down from $800 trillion following new figures in the Wheatley report on 28 September 2012.
#AceFinanceNews – BRITAIN – October 03 – Payday lender Wonga says it is writing off £220m of debts for 330,000 customers after putting in place new affordability checks.
The company, which has faced criticism for its high interest rates and debt collection tactics, made the changes after discussions with regulators.
Customers in arrears whose loans would not have been made under the new checks will have their debts written-off.
A further 45,000 customers in arrears will not have to pay interest on loans.
Affected Wonga customers will be notified by 10 October.
Wonga’s chairman Andy Haste, who joined the company in July, said a review of lending practices had shown the need for change at Wonga was “real and urgent”, and new stricter lending criteria would mean “accepting far fewer applications from new and existing customers”.
Back in 2013 a visit to Wonga.com, the website of the fast-growing online payday lender, is a seductive experience. “We know you just searched for payday loans – you might be glad you found us! We are different …” With Wonga, the borrower is saved the indignity of queuing at a high street store such as Money Shop or Cash Converters, or the intrusion of a doorstep lender calling at their home. “Wonga is super fast, convenient and flexible too – unlike most payday loans. You can apply online in minutes and usually get a decision promptly – no faxing, no meetings and no hanging on the phone listening to cheesy lift music … once approved we will send your money within 15 minutes.”
In some respects, however, Wonga is all too similar to other lenders targeting high-interest loans at financially stretched borrowers. In 2011 it was forced to write off almost £77m of bad loans – despite claims to be a responsible and “truly selective” lender.
Founder and chief executive Errol Damelin portrays the typical Wonga customer as a creditworthy borrower seeking speed and convenience – perhaps like Kweku Adoboli, the rogue trader who almost destroyed UBS, who, it has emerged, turned to Wonga.com to cover spread-betting losses– rather than someone at the limits of conventional sources of short-term credit such as bank overdrafts and credit cards.
On the Wonga website, Damelin tells prospective borrowers: “Part of responsible lending for us is being truly selective and making sure … we are using all the data we can possibly get to help us make the best decision as to whether you can afford the credit and whether it’s really good for you at the moment.
#AceFinanceNews – BRITAIN – September 25 – The changing face of gambling today herald’s the demise of the Suffolk Downs, New England’s last thoroughbred racing track, as it is closing its venue this year.
This was the place that once hosted Sea-Biscuit and other premier horses of the day, and now falls victim to changes in a gaming industry that now revolves around lotteries and casinos.
The 160-acre track, located just outside down-town Boston, had hoped to revive its sagging fortunes with a $1.1 billion Mohegan Sun casino project.
But after the proposal was rejected last week, the operators said they have no choice but to close the nearly 80-year-old track.
#AceFinanceNews – BRITAIN – September 23 – The tax disc, which was first introduced in 1921, will cease to exist in paper form from October 1, with a new electronic system being put in its place.
Under new rules announced in the Autumn Statement last year, motorists will now have to register their car online to pay Vehicle Excise Duty, otherwise known as road tax. This can be done via Direct Debit on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website, on the phone, or at a Post Office branch.
Those who don’t register for the tax, will be caught out by number plate recognition cameras which track each vehicle on the road.
While the move aims to streamline services and, it is claimed, save British businesses millions of pounds a year in administrative costs, motorists are being warned to brush up on the new rules or face possible fines.
The change mostly affects those buying or selling a used car.
Anyone who buys a used car will no longer benefit if there are months left on the tax disc, as the vehicle tax will no longer be transferred with the car. This means buyers will have to renew their tax disc straight away, or risk being caught out on the road in an untaxed car.
The seller of the vehicle is responsible for informing the DVLA of a change of ownership, otherwise they could face a possible £1,000 fine. This can be done by filling out a V5C for and sending it to the DVLA.
Vehicle sellers will get an automatic refund for any full calendar months left on the vehicle tax.
Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said: “This is a huge change and vehicle owners and drivers need to be aware of the rules. A driver, not registered owner, can be issued a non-endorsable fixed penalty for driving an untaxed car.
An owner can be fined £80 for using an untaxed vehicle (one not registered off the road) and can be charged any back tax.”
#AceFinanceNews – BRITAIN – September 22 – Expats who rent out their homes in Britain will be stripped of the right to use the personal allowance, under a tax raid prepared by George Osborne Telegraph finance reported back in August.
Britons could be forced to return from retirements overseas if the Chancellor presses ahead with plans to force non-residents to pay tax on all their UK income, accountants warned.
Retired people drawing a Government pension are also likely to be hit by the proposals, which could cut a couple’s income by up to £4,000 a year.
At present, EU nationals and British expats are entitled to offset income earned in the UK against the £10,000 personal allowance.
Mr Osborne first indicated his desire to curtail the allowance in the March budget.
Under Treasury proposals released for consultation, the allowance would be restricted to people with a “strong economic connection” to Britain, bringing the tax regime into line with the US, Canada and much of the EU.
The move could affect up to 400,000 people and raise the exchequer an extra £400 million a year.It would include 175,000 people who live abroad and earn an income from property in Britain.
Many of the 1.2 million British retired people living overseas will not pay extra tax on their pension because they are either UK residents for tax purposes, as they spend half the year in Britain, or because most state or private pensioners are only taxable in the country of residence.
However, UK government pensions are only taxable in Britain, meaning that unless the Treasury introduces exceptions, former civil servants, NHS workers and council officials living overseas will pay more tax.
British diplomats and missionaries who are currently entitled to the personal allowance may also be hit by the tax changes, the Treasury consultation says.
While some expats will be able to claim tax relief from their country of residence, those living in low-tax jurisdictions – such as Hong Kong and Dubai – will pay more tax overall.
Jackie Hall, a tax partner at accountants Baker Tilly, said expatriates should consider selling their UK rental properties and reinvesting the money in shares or property abroad.
Some Britons may be forced to abandon a carefully-planned retirement overseas and return to Britain if the tax changes mean they no longer have enough to live on, she warned.
“Our pensioners who have gone abroad are going to suffer the biggest impact,” she said.
“If you have already jumped ship and are reasonably comfortable, this could turn the tide against you.
Those people may begin to struggle because they haven’t got the income in retirement that they thought they had.”
The Treasury said no decision has yet been made.
#AceFinanceNews – BRITAIN – April 26 – Vince Cable the Business Secretary, has been drawn into a row about the controversial takeover of a London-listed oil group that is reliant on funds from one of Russia’s largest banks.
Sky News has seen a letter sent by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to Mr Cable warning him that the Stanlow refinery, which produces 15% of the UK’s transport fuel, is being used as collateral in a bid for Essar Energy.
Robert Hingley, an ABI director, said in the letter to Mr Cable that Essar Global, the vehicle of the billionaire Ruia brothers who want to buy the company, had failed to provide any indication of its plans for the Stanlow site in north-west England.
By highlighting the Russian provenance of the financing for the offer, the ABI’s intervention will escalate tensions over the cut-price bid by Essar Global for the 22% of Essar Energy shares it does not already own.
The Ruias listed Essar Energy in London by selling shares less than four years ago priced at six times the price they are now offering.
The cut-price offer has sparked fury from big City institutions, including Standard Life Investments, which in February described it as “cynical opportunism” and “a calculated attempt to deprive minority shareholders of the substantial future upside in Essar Energy’s valuation”.
Under stock exchange rules, because the Ruias already control a majority of the shares, they can declare their offer unconditional even if no other shareholders accept their bid.
Doing so would enable them to de-list the company without a vote, which would either force investors to accept just 70 pence -a-share or to remain shareholders in a more highly-indebted and unlisted company where they possess no influence.
The ABI special committee, which represents major City shareholders including Standard Life and Henderson, has urged Essar Global to commit to a de-listing only if a majority of the independent investors accept its offer.
The Financial Conduct Authority is changing its rules relating to de-listings but has irritated the ABI by not applying that rule-change to takeover situations.
Ace Related News:
1. April 26 – Sky News – http://tinyurl.com/l567o5u
#AceFinanceNews – BRITAIN – April 26 – Home-buyers will face more scrutiny by mortgage lenders under new regulations which take effect today.
The industry-wide changes affect home buyers and people looking to re-mortgage and they will mean that lenders have to take a much stronger interest in people’s spending habits and how their life plans could affect their ability to meet their repayments.
Mortgage applicants will need to sit through longer interviews, and provide more evidence that they can afford a home loan before being offered one.
Each lender will have their own interpretation of the new rules, but in general people are likely to be asked for more detail about regular outgoings such as childcare, food, household bills, loans, credit cards and leisure activities.
The changes also mean lenders will have to test whether home-buyers will be able to afford their mortgage payments if interest rates rise sharply, to 7% or above.
The Mortgage Market Review (MMR) rules aim to ensure there is no return to any irresponsible lending practices of the past, but there are some concerns that it could slow down the housing market.
Paul Broadhead, head of mortgage policy for the Building Societies Association, said: “The Mortgage Market Review was introduced in order to ensure that a common sense approach to mortgage lending is applied by all lenders and that people are not borrowing more than they can afford to pay.
“A number of building societies implemented the process early and have been lending this way, without problems, for a number of weeks.”
Ace Related News:
- Sky News – April 26 – http://tinyurl.com/otrwsz4
- Guardian – April 26 – http://tinyurl.com/mq8cwux
#AceFinanceNews – BRITAIN – April 21 – Companies will be forced to list their true owners on a public register in a bid to combat tax evasion and money-laundering, Vince Cable has said.
The business secretary said the list, which could be used by tax authorities, would tackle the “darker side of capitalism”.
The plans follow concerns that opaque UK corporate structures can be used to channel or hide illicit funds.
Campaigners called it an “historic step” in the fight against corruption.
‘Smoke and mirrors’
“For consumers, investors and the wider public to really trust a company they need to know who is really in charge,” said Mr Cable.
“This is why I’m making sure we take tough action tackling the darker side of capitalism and the smoke and mirrors which have existed for too long.
“No longer will UK companies be able to use complex structures and trails of paperwork to hide information and keep the public in the dark.”
The new rules, which need parliamentary approval, would force UK-registered firms to give details of anyone with an interest in more than 25% of its shares or voting rights.
These details, held by Companies House, would need to be updated every year.
Definition of Blind Trusts:
A blind trust is a trust in which the fiduciaries, namely the trustees or those who have been given power of attorney, have full discretion over the assets, and the trust beneficiaries have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust and no right to intervene in their handling.
Blind trusts are generally used when a settlor (sometimes called a trustor or donor) wishes to keep the beneficiary unaware of the specific assets in the trust, such as to avoid conflict of interest between the beneficiary and the investments.
Politicians or others in sensitive positions often place their personal assets (including investment income) into blind trusts, to avoid public scrutiny and accusations of conflicts of interest when they direct government funds to the private sector.
A blind trust is often used with those who have come across a fortune within a short period of time (e.g. an inheritance, or a multimillion lottery) in order to keep their identity anonymous to the public.
Ace Related New:
#AceFinanceNews – BRITAIN – April 11 – (BBC) – The Co-operative Bank has confirmed it made a loss of £1.3bn for 2013.
The losses, in line with expectations, come after the bank’s failed bid to buy 632 branches from Lloyds Bank last year.
The deal collapsed after the discovery of a £1.5 Billion black hole in the Co-op Bank’s balance sheet.
Parent company the Co-operative Group lost control of the bank to a group of US hedge funds that launched a rescue deal in December.
The bank said it did not expect to make a profit in 2014 or 2015.
It also apologised to its 4.7 million customers.
Co-op Bank chief executive Niall Booker said: “We appreciate that customers and other stakeholders continue to feel angry about how past failings placed the future of the business so seriously at risk.
“I would like to apologise to them, to thank them for their continued loyalty and to thank colleagues for their commitment during such difficult times.”
The bank said it would not pay out £5 million to former executives who left the bank after its near collapse last year.
But Mr Booker will receive a £2.9 million pay package, which includes a basic salary of £1.2 million and up to £1.7 million in performance related bonuses.
Mr Booker could also receive a potential £1.2 million as part of a three year incentive plan based on the future performance of the business.
It said up to 40 of its high street branches will close this year, which is likely have an impact on jobs, although the bank has yet to put a figure on the number of posts under threat.
The results were published after two earlier delays.
Read More: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26967020
IBT reported that the Former HSBC banker Niall Booker has taken over as leader of Britain’s Co-operative Group, after ex-CEO Barry Tootell stepped down in the wake of suggestions by ratings agency Moody’s that the Co-op’s banking operation may need a government bailout.
Booker will take charge of the group’s finance arm Co-operative Bank, and become deputy chief executive of The Co-operative Group, on 10 June.
He was previously the head of HSBC’s North America business until stepping down in 2011, after 30 years with the bank.
Earlier this month, Moody’s slashed the bank’s debt rating to junk status, due to concerns that the Co-operative Bank has a £1.8bn (€2.1bn, $2.7bn) black hole in its balance sheet http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/co-op-barry-tootell-niall-booker-471772