Is the Johnson Appeal Raising the Stakes for the FX Market?

Written testimony has been lodged relating to former HSBC FX trading head Mark Johnson’s appeal against his conviction for wire fraud in the US and it contains a few surprises – some of which may indicate stronger implications for the FX industry than the original trial, as Colin Lambert discovers.The original trial of HSBC’s former global head of FX trading Mark Johnson was widely seen in the FX industry as being, aside from the outcome on his personal circumstances, a single issue case – what would the US legal system say about pre-hedging? The initial outcome – which is now being appealed – was a conviction and a jail sentence under the very broad umbrella of “wire fraud”, a decision that was seen as potentially having an impact on the FX Global Code, which explicitly (under certain circumstances), endorses the practice.
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Is the Johnson Appeal Raising the Stakes for the FX Market?

Written testimony has been lodged relating to former HSBC FX trading head Mark Johnson’s appeal against his conviction for wire fraud in the US and it contains a few surprises – some of which may indicate stronger implications for the FX industry than the original trial, as Colin Lambert discovers.The original trial of HSBC’s former global head of FX trading Mark Johnson was widely seen in the FX industry as being, aside from the outcome on his personal circumstances, a single issue case – what would the US legal system say about pre-hedging? The initial outcome – which is now being appealed – was a conviction and a jail sentence under the very broad umbrella of “wire fraud”, a decision that was seen as potentially having an impact on the FX Global Code, which explicitly (under certain circumstances), endorses the practice.
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The Prosecution That Never Was

In this Profit & Loss exclusive, Rohan Ramchandani, who was recently acquitted of FX market manipulation by a jury in New York, breaks his silence on the case and gives his perspective on why he believes the prosecution’s arguments were fundamentally flawed.Cast your mind back to 2008. Lehman Brothers collapsed, the financial crisis ensued, causing a global recession, which in turn led to unemployment climbing and house prices falling. People lost their homes. There was public outrage at what happened, aimed primarily at global “bankers” though few understood exactly what role individuals had played. Nonetheless, in the following months, one question in particular recurred in the press, namely “who is being held accountable?” This was to prove the start of a multi-year “anti-banker” campaign provoking regulators and prosecutors to go hunting for blood.
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BoE, ESMA Prepare for Brexit No-Deal with MoU

The Bank of England and European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) have announced that they have agreed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) regarding cooperation and information-sharing arrangements with respect to central counterparties (CCPs) and central securities depositories (CSDs). The MoUs follow the adoption by the European Commission in December 2018 of temporary equivalence decisions on the future UK legal and supervisory framework for UK CCPs and CSDs. The Commission’s implementing acts would come into effect in the result of a no-deal Brexit. In that scenario, they would allow UK CCPs and CSDs to be recognised by ESMA from 30 March 2019, and therefore continue to provide services respectively to EU clearing members, trading venues and also provide notary and settlement services for securities issued under EU law. The MoUs will also only take effect in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
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StanChart Fined $40m in FX Rigging Probe

The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) has fined Standard Chartered Bank $40 million for attempting to rig transactions in FX markets between 2007 and 2013. An investigation by the DFS, as well as an internal review by the bank, found that bank traders used a range of illegal tactics to maximise profits or minimise losses at the expense of the bank’s customers or customers at other banks. Specifically, it was found that between 2007 and 2013, traders based in New York and elsewhere joined traders at other locations in a chat room called “Old Gits”. According to the DFS, the chat room was formed so that traders could coordinate trading, share confidential information and otherwise affect FX prices, with one trader apparently describing the chat room to a new member as “a den of thieves”.
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Firms Should Revisit OTC Reporting Frameworks – Study

A new report from Tabb Group argues that with regulators becoming increasingly strict on OTC derivative trade reporting it is time for firms to consider a comprehensive review of the trade reporting process. The report, Checking in on OTC Reporting Rules was authored by Tabb’s head of derivatives research Russell Rhoads, who points out that a key component to reducing risk levels in financial markets involves regulators having access to timely and accurate data. “With the new regulations mostly set in stone, now may be the best opportunity for firms to consider a comprehensive review of the OTC trade reporting process,” he says.
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FICC Markets Group Issues Best Practice Guidelines

The FICC Markets Standards Board (FMSB) has published the final version of its Statement of Good Practice (SGP) on Suspicious Transaction and Order Reporting.The FMSB is an independent body set up by market practitioners to try and improve standards of conduct in wholesale FICC markets. It aims to bring transparency to grey areas in the wholesale FICC markets by identifying emerging vulnerabilities, clarifying and documenting practice and agreeing standards to improve conduct and market behaviour. Setting up the FMSB was one of the main recommendations to emerge from the Fair and Effective Markets Review (FEMR), which was conducted by HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
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ESMA Renews CFD Restrictions

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has agreed to renew the restriction on the marketing, distribution or sale of contracts for differences (CFDs) to retail clients. The rule, which has been in effect since 1 August 2018, was due to expire on 1 February 2019 but has now been renewed for a further three-month period. ESMA says it has “carefully considered” the need to extend the intervention measure currently in effect, adding, “ESMA considers that a significant investor protection concern related to the offer of CFDs to retail clients continues to exist.”
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Tarbert Lined Up for CFTC Chair

Heath Tarbert is to be nominated by the US government to be the next chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. His appointment is subject to Congressional approval, however he was appointed to his current role at the US Treasury by the US Senate with a huge majority and is expected to attract similar support. Tarbert will take the reins of the US regulator from Christopher Giancarlo, who was appointed to the role in 2017 and is due to step down at the end of April 2019
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FCA Seeks to Cement CFD, Binary Options Rules

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued two consultation papers ahead of the imposition of rules to address what it terms “harm to retail consumers from the sale of certain complex derivative products”, specifically retail –orientated contracts for difference (CFDs) and binary options. The proposed rules would apply to firms acting in or from the UK and ban the sale, marketing and distribution of binary options, as well as restrict the sale, marketing and distribution of CFDs and similar products to retail customers.
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