SPOTLIGHT

FCA fines, bans individuals in first legal insurance case

Feb 4 2016

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined five people and two firms a total of £15.5 million in its first enforcement action regarding insurance cover for lawyers. The regulator said Shay Reches, a director at Coverall Worldwide, and with responsibility for a managing general agent, Aderia UK Limited, was central to setting up and operating insurance schemes that left 1,300 solicitors' firms across England and Wales without proper cover. "In doing so, Mr Reches recklessly directed payments of insurance premiums to parties other than the insurers and reinsurers responsible for paying claims, increasing the risk that policyholders' claims would not be paid," the FCA said in a statement. "This misconduct contributed to the failure of several insurance schemes as well as to three insurers going into administration." The FCA, in conjunction with the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority, closed down the three insurers Millburn, European Risk Insurance Company (ERIC)

EU executive, U.S. strike transatlantic data transfer pact

Feb 04 2016 

European and U.S. negotiators agreed a data pact on Tuesday that should prevent European Union regulators from restricting data transfers by companies such as Google and Amazon across the Atlantic. The European Union and the United States have been racing to replace the Safe Harbour framework that was outlawed by a top EU court last year over concerns about U.S. mass surveillance, leaving thousands of companies in legal limbo. The announcement of the pact, which still requires political approval, coincides with two days of talks in Brussels, where European data protection authorities were poised to restrict data transfers unless a deal was clinched. The European Commission said that the new Privacy Shield would place stronger obligations on U.S. companies to protect Europeans' personal data and ensure stronger monitoring and enforcement by U.S. agencies. "We have for the first time received detailed written assurances from the United States on the safeguards and limitations

Global Group of Intelligence Units vows to better share intelligence on terror finance

Feb 04 2016 

The global network of national financial intelligence units on Monday vowed to hasten and broaden the sharing of information about money laundering and terrorism financing. Steps would include sharing tips with the private sector. The Egmont Group, representing government agencies that police financial transactions, issued a statement highlighting recent attacks by Islamic State, al Qaeda and the groups' affiliates which it said pose "serious threats to security and international financial stability." The group's 102 member units responded to those attacks and the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters by meeting on Monday to discuss how the global network could respond to the growing terror threat. "As the international group that unites its members to exchange financial intelligence and expertise, the Egmont Group is committed to capitalizing on its unique global network," it said. The group agreed on recommendations and initiatives that include: Providing indicators

U.S. judge's release of HSBC report seen hurting banker-monitor candor

Feb 04 2016 

A U.S. District Court judge's decision last week to publicly release a report detailing HSBC Holdings Plc's efforts to make mandatory improvements to its anti-money laundering program may impact the way financial institutions interact with independent compliance monitors, say compliance officers and consultants. "I think it will definitely change monitor-bank interactions for the worse. They have had regulator level insight and the candor expected in such an arrangement is not well suited for gross public display," said an anti-money laundering compliance officer who knows firsthand what it is like to work with a monitor. The release of the HSBC report, which is more than 1,000 pages long, may make it more difficult for the government to fulfill the objectives of the monitor process, said another. Bankers "might be more circumspect about how they engage the monitor and how transparent they are with the monitor, which might defeat the purpose of putting the monitor there," the source