CFTC Provides Extended Brexit Relief

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Divisions of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO), Market Oversight (DMO), and Clearing and Risk (DCR), have announced they will grant no-action relief to provide greater certainty to the global marketplace in connection with the anticipated withdrawal of the UK from the European Union with or without a ratified withdrawal agreement. “At a time of heightened market uncertainty caused by Brexit, this Commission has worked over the past several weeks to bring clarity to participants in global derivatives markets by a series of separate actions and statements with its regulatory counterparts in other jurisdictions,” says CFTC chairman Christopher Giancarlo.
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FCA Officially Bans Retail-Orientated Binary Options

Following consultation feedback, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed all firms acting in or from the UK are prohibited from selling, marketing or distributing binary options to retail consumers. The FCA aired its concern about the products in late 2017, before issuing a consultation paper in late 2018 seeking industry feedback, It now says that following that feedback it will officially introduce new rules on April 2, 2019, “to tackle widespread concerns about the inherent risks of these products, and the poor conduct of the firms selling them”. It adds, “This has led to consumer harm in the UK and internationally through large and unexpected trading losses.”
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EVIA Provides Feedback to EU on MiFIR

The European Venues and Intermediaries Association (EVIA), formerly known as the Wholesale Markets’ Brokers Association (WMBA), has published its response to a call from Germany’s Finance Ministry for feedback on MiFID II and MiFIR one year on from their implementation. In the feedback, EVIA makes a number of points and stresses its belief that foreign exchange swaps should not be covered under the regulation. EVIA does note that whilst its feedback sets out some of the difficulties and remedies in response to the premise of the call for evidence, it states that MiFID2 delivered a “great many benefits".
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CFTC Welcomes EU EMIR Agreement

The political agreement reached last week in Brussels to implement the EMIR 2.2 regulation has been welcomed on both sides of the Atlantic. The updated regulation will broaden the role of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to include more supervisory tools and on-site inspections; introduce a tiered system of recognition for offshore CCPs depending on their product set and systemic importance to the EU; and introduces the requirement that systemically important non-EU CCPs establish themselves in the EU if they seek to access the single market.
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Basel Committee Highlights Crypto Concerns

The Basel Committee, established under the auspices of the Bank for International Settlements, has issued a statement highlighting its concerns that “the continued growth of crypto-asset trading platforms and new financial products related to crypto-assets has the potential to raise financial stability concerns and increase risks faced by banks.” The Committee, which reports to the Group of Central Bank Governors and Heads of Supervision, acknowledges that the crypto-asset market remains “small” and that banks have “limited direct exposures”, however it argues that such assets do not “reliably provide the standard functions of money and are unsafe to rely on as a medium of exchange or store of value”.
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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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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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