FCA brings money laundering charges against NatWest; Eurex and Korea Exchange expand long-standing cooperation with further Futures

Mar 16, 2021

First Read

$31,626/$300,000 (10.5%)
Tom Anderson


Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

We added remembrances to the Jack Sandner Remembrances page from Ellen Resnick, Peter Arena and Chris Hehmeyer.

If you would like to share a remembrance, please email me at johnlothian@johnlothian.com

Welcome to Boca-V day one. It is Boca without the sunshine, pink buildings and Bar Luna. I am hoping we can return next year. Fingers are crossed.

This morning as we deliver this newsletter, FIA CEO and President Walt Lukken is going to speak and will be announcing a partnership with The Greenwood Project, the life-defining work of Bevon Joseph. He will also talk about the FIA survey, which showed a strong outlook for the cleared derivatives markets. That is the story of my professional life. Strong cleared derivatives markets.

Tom Anderson is the latest to give to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign. Tom is a friend and longtime reader of JLN who is a managing director of business development and prime services at Galaxy Digital. Other roles he has had during his 40 years in the listed exchange business are senior vice president and head of proprietary trading group services at Wedbush Futures, a Division of Wedbush Securities, and as chief commercial officer at ABN AMRO Clearing. Thank you to Tom and all who have given and all who have yet to give. Support our efforts to preserve industry history by donating to our GoFundMe campaign.

I interviewed Peter Harrigan last week for the Open Outcry Traders History Project. Peter is a former Cboe and PECOS trader. He has also been a crypto investor and has some good stories to tell. Stay tuned.

Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL


Keep an eye out for a new episode of the CryptoMarketsWiki Podcast this week, featuring David Olsson from BlockFi.~MR


Retail Traders Wade Into Cannabis Shares

Nasdaq IR Intelligence analyst Saleem Daya sat down to talk with JLN about a recent jump in cannabis stock price volatility. He also explained what is behind the rise in mergers and acquisitions in the space.

Listen to the podcast »


Statement of Commissioner Dan M. Berkovitz on Exchange Rules and Product Terms and Conditions that Fail to Impose Limits on Crude Oil “Trading at Settlement” Transactions
The Commission’s final rules on Position Limits for Derivatives (Position Limits Final Rules) become effective today, March 15, 2020.[1] In anticipation of this effective date, the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), a CFTC-registered designated contract market, “self-certified”[2] amended product terms and conditions to raise the speculative position limits for its West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures, including in the spot month.[3] NYMEX and other CME Group contract markets also requested and received Commission approval of new or amended rules relevant to their position limits. These exchange regulatory filings implementing the Position Limits Final Rules miss an opportunity to remediate a well-known vulnerability in these contract markets’ Trading at Settlement (TAS) rules, namely the absence of any numerical limits on the speculative use of TAS contracts during the spot month of the contract. Last year, the Commission failed to address this issue in its report on the April 20 collapse of WTI crude oil futures prices,[4] as well as in the Position Limits Final Rules.[5] Today, the contract markets also do not address this issue.

*****The use of the TAS in the oil crash needs to be looked at. Yes, it does.~JJL


Token citizens of the world, decentralise! Is this how liberty dies? With the transparent tokenisation of people?
Izabella Kaminska – FT
Last week Jemima brought us the story of Mintme.com, a crypto platform that hopes to help people fund themselves “for free” by allowing them to create a token that represents their own selves or a project that they have created.

*****I like centralization. If you look deep into your soul, it is centralized, not decentralized.~JJL


FIA survey shows strong outlook for cleared derivatives markets; China, bitcoin and operations are key focus while pandemic and political risks top concerns
Will Acworth – FIA
FIA conducted a survey at the beginning of 2021 to assess the outlook for the global cleared derivatives industry. The survey gathered feedback from people working at banks, brokers, exchanges, technology vendors and other firms that support the trading and clearing of derivatives such as futures and options.

*****Survey says…..!!!~JJL


Monday’s Top Three
The top-read story on Monday, was from John Lothian News, Jack Sandner: Chicago Success Story, Fighter, Lawyer, Trader, Brokerage Executive, Exchange Leader, Civic Leader and Investor, followed by a second John Lothian News piece on Sandner, Jack Sandner Remembrances. The third most read was Finance Feeds’ The Dawn of Australia’s New Futures Exchange, FEX Global.


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Lead Stories

FCA brings money laundering charges against NatWest; Regulator launches criminal proceedings after customer deposited £365m with UK bank
Nicholas Megaw and Caroline Binham – FT
The Financial Conduct Authority has launched criminal proceedings against NatWest for failing to comply with anti-money laundering rules, in the first attempted prosecution against a UK bank under the law.

Eurex and Korea Exchange expand long-standing cooperation with further Futures
KOSPI 200 Futures to be listed on the Eurex/KRX Link; Eurex is the only after-hours trading venue for KRX derivatives
Eurex and Korea Exchange, KRX, are further expanding the range of products accessible via their joint link. As of 22 March, Eurex will list futures on the Korean benchmark index KOSPI 200. The new product listing emphasizes once again the partner exchanges’ commitment to connecting markets globally.

Tidal Wave of ESG Funds Brings Profit to Wall Street; Socially focused exchange-traded funds give asset managers higher fees in a low-fee industry
Michael Wursthorn – WSJ
Sustainability has been good for Wall Street’s bottom line. Exchange-traded funds that explicitly focus on socially responsible investments have 43% higher fees than widely popular standard ETFs.

These 10 Black Bankers Are Reshaping Wall Street; Executives say representation paves the way for more diversity.
Lananh Nguyen and Michelle F. Davis – Bloomberg
Wall Street prizes innovators — people who think differently and change how business is done. We’ve identified 10 Black bankers, endorsed by their peers for being leaders who stand out in an industry that’s working to transform itself from one dominated by White men. Whether these executives are building a global electronic trading desk or managing mortgages in the U.S., they emphasized the need to bring fresh perspectives to banking. Fixing the industry’s problems will require more frank discussions about race and diversity, as well as changes in recruitment and mentoring, the financiers said.

The Financial Crisis the World Forgot; The Federal Reserve crossed red lines to rescue markets in March 2020. Is there enough momentum to fix the weaknesses the episode exposed?
Jeanna Smialek – NY Times
By the middle of March 2020 a sense of anxiety pervaded the Federal Reserve. The fast-unfolding coronavirus pandemic was rippling through global markets in dangerous ways. Trading in Treasurys — the government securities that are considered among the safest assets in the world, and the bedrock of the entire bond market — had become disjointed as panicked investors tried to sell everything they owned to raise cash. Buyers were scarce. The Treasury market had never broken down so badly, even in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.

FCA starts criminal action against NatWest for alleged money laundering failures
Holly Williams – PA Media
The City watchdog has launched criminal proceedings against taxpayer-backed banking giant NatWest Group for alleged failures under money laundering rules. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) alleges that “increasingly large cash deposits” were made into a NatWest customer’s account, with around £365 million paid in – of which some £264 million was in cash.

Nasdaq to Deliver Execution Platform Technology to PureStream
The fully-hosted market infrastructure technology will support the new U.S. trading venue which reengineers the price and liquidity discovery process, by focusing on parent order completion speeds, not per trade latency; PureStream on target for a Q2 2021 launch, subject to U.S. regulatory approvals
PureStream Trading Technologies Inc announced today it has selected Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) to power its new PureStream alternative trading system (ATS) via the Nasdaq Execution Platform. PureStream, which will offer brokers and their institutional clients greater bandwidth to get more liquidity faster, more cost-effectively and with greater security, is on target for a Q2 2021 launch, subject to U.S. regulatory approvals.

Commerzbank Chairman Vetter Unexpectedly Resigns, Citing Health
Steven Arons – Bloomberg
Commerzbank AG Supervisory Board Chairman Hans-Joerg Vetter has unexpectedly resigned for health reasons, throwing the bank into renewed management tumult as it prepares a major overhaul. Vetter on Tuesday informed Chief Executive Officer Manfred Knof that “he will resign from the Supervisory Board of Commerzbank AG by the end of the day due to health reasons,” the lender said in a statement. Deputy Chairman Uwe Tschaege will take over until a permanent successor has been found.

Americans ready to pour $40 billion into bitcoin and the stock market as stimulus checks arrive: survey
William Watts – MarketWatch
Another round of stimulus checks could provide a shot in the arm for stocks and, especially, bitcoin, according to a survey released Monday by Mizuho Securities. The poll of 235 individuals who expect to receive checks courtesy of the latest round of COVID-19 relief signed into law by President Joe Biden found that two out of five recipients plan to invest at least some part of the proceeds into bitcoin and stocks. Based on the responses, around 10% of the total gross payments, or around $40 billion of the $380 billion in direct checks, could be allocated to the world’s most popular digital asset and stock purchases.

Build a Better Bitcoin? Yes We Can; Maybe the Fed shouldn’t fight the cryptocurrency but replace it.
Mark Gongloff – Bloomberg
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Bitcoin?
Let’s say you run a sovereign nation that has the world’s biggest economy and the world’s reserve currency to boot, but one day a rival arises. Let’s call it MeganTheeStallionCoin. It promises to do away with fusty old dollars like yours by being unregulated and secured by something called “the blockchain,” which burns the annual energy consumption of a large Texas family every hour. It also disappears forever if you lose your password, and you’d never use it as actual currency because the MeganCoin you spend on a pizza today could be worth $60,000 tomorrow. But people ignore all that in hopes of making $60,000 and also it’s endorsed by not only Megan Thee Stallion but Elon Musk.

Credit Suisse Faces Possible Charges on Greensill Loan; Swiss bank says it received $50 million back so far from $140 million owed by the firm
Margot Patrick – WSJ
Credit Suisse Group AG CS 1.17% said Tuesday it received part-repayment on a loan it made to Greensill Capital but might still need to take charges after the collapse of the finance company last week. The Swiss bank said it received $50 million back so far from $140 million owed by Greensill. It has also paid back $3.1 billion to investors in $10 billion in supply-chain finance funds that are tied to Greensill.

Vanguard Hits Pause on Fund Ambitions in China; The decision is part of the U.S. financial giant’s push to focus on dispensing advice in China with Ant Group
Dawn Lim – WSJ
American financial giant Vanguard Group has suspended plans to launch a mutual-fund business in China. The Malvern, Pa., firm told staffers in recent days that it was pausing months of preparations to sell its funds to Chinese consumers. The firm had been planning to seek Beijing’s approval for the business.

Swine Fever Resurgence Damps Hopes for U.S. Soybean Farmers; New cases of African swine fever reported in China may dent demand for U.S. agricultural exports
Kirk Maltais – WSJ
A resurgence of a lethal pig disease is putting new strain on China’s efforts to rebuild its herds—a threat to U.S. farmers’ hopes to sell more soybeans there this year. A new outbreak of African swine fever in the world’s leading hog-producing nation is killing increasing numbers of Chinese pigs, with the sow herd falling 3% to 5% each month since December, according to a report Tuesday from Rabobank. Chinese officials had forecast that the country would return to pre-disease hog herds this year. The new outbreaks could delay that until 2023, Rabobank found.

Cathie Wood Persuades Investors to Stick With ARK; The stock picker uses TV interviews, YouTube videos to put investors at ease amid a volatile period for her funds
Michael Wursthorn – WSJ
Cathie Wood’s popular investment funds have taken investors on a wild ride this year, testing their faith in the star stock picker. Shares of ARK Investment Management LLC’s five exchange-traded funds were flying high as of early February, up as much as 30% in 2021. That capped a 14-month run in which the ETFs’ stock prices more than doubled. Then the rally ended.


White House races to blunt potential Covid-19 surge
Jeremy Diamond, CNN
The White House is racing to prevent and prepare for a potential fourth coronavirus surge as more transmissible coronavirus variants spread across the US — investing billions of dollars to boost coronavirus preparedness, accelerating the pace of vaccinations and working to prepare the public and governors for the prospect of another surge.

Moderna Says Dosing Started in Pediatric Study of Covid Vaccine
Robert Langreth – Bloomberg
Moderna Inc. said the first children have been dosed in a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine in kids from six months to less than 12 years old. The phase 2-phase 3 trial is being conducted in conjunction with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. The study is expected to enroll approximately 6,750 participants in the U.S. and Canada.

Health Ministers to Debate Astra Shot After Halting Vaccine
John Follain and Tim Loh – Bloomberg
EMA agency to decide Thursday on AstraZeneca vaccine; Regional health ministers meet on Tuesday to discuss steps
European health ministers will discuss the future of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine after a growing number of countries suspended its use to examine side effects, potentially throwing the region’s already slow inoculation campaign further off track.

Astra Vaccine Woes Grow as Regulators Try to Ease Clot Fears
Suzi Ring and Michelle Fay Cortez – Bloomberg
Shot once seen as frontrunner now faces halts globally; Company says no evidence vaccine increases blood-clot risk
AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine for Covid-19, once expected to be a mainstay of protection for much of the world, remains shrouded in controversy as more countries limit its use even as scientists warn of the need for governments to tread carefully.

France Finds Covid-19 Variant That Evades Gold-Standard Tests
Marthe Fourcade – Bloomberg
A new Covid-19 variant is spreading in the French region of Brittany, where several patients developed tell-tale symptoms but tested negative for the virus. Early analysis doesn’t suggest the mutated pathogen is more contagious or causes more severe disease than other versions, France’s health ministry said in a statement late Monday. Experiments are underway to determine the variant’s response to vaccination and antibodies from prior Covid infection, the ministry said.

Blood clot fears and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine: what we know; No evidence of a link but several European countries have suspended the Covid jab
Donato Paolo Mancini and Hannah Kuchler – FT
Germany and France are among the growing list of European countries to have suspended or limited the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after reports of possible side-effects including several incidents of blood clots in people that had received the shot.

Side-effect fears should not derail vaccinations; Authorities must consider huge benefits of Covid jabs as well as risks
The Editorial Board – FT
As the fastest inoculation campaign in history gathers pace, with 300m Covid-19 jabs already administered globally, reports of side-effects are inevitably surging. These range from life-threatening events such as thrombosis, which has prompted many European countries to suspend AstraZeneca jabs, to the minor short-term consequences such as flu-like symptoms, nausea and muscle pain that accompany all vaccines to a greater or lesser extent.

Ships to compete with planes for vaccine deliveries, says Maersk; Container group says jab supply likely to outstrip air freight capacity by middle of the year
Harry Dempsey – FT
Ships will soon compete with planes to deliver Covid-19 vaccines in a distribution drive that could take four years, according to the head of pharmaceuticals at AP Moller-Maersk, the world’s largest container group.

Moderna Is Testing Its Covid-19 Vaccine on Young Children; Trial will involve children aged 6 months to 11 years
Peter Loftus – WSJ
Moderna Inc. MRNA 4.87% has begun studying its Covid-19 vaccine in children aged six months to 11 years in the U.S. and Canada, the latest effort to widen the mass-vaccination campaign beyond adults. The Cambridge, Mass. company said Tuesday that the first children have received doses in the study, which Moderna is conducting in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Israel’s First Covid-19 Vaccinations Were Easy. Now Comes the Hard Part; The early stages of the vaccination campaign went smoothly, but pockets of resistance suggest eventual herd immunity may be hard to attain, offering lessons for the U.S.
Felicia Schwartz – WSJ
Across the street from a bar packed with newly inoculated Israelis, a crowd gathered on a recent Tuesday to protest against government pressure to take the vaccine, and the perks it extends to the vaccinated.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

EBS Collaborates with TORA to Provide Improved FX Liquidity for Multi-Asset Hedge Fund and Buy-Side Community
CME Group
EBS, the leading global provider of electronic trading platforms and technology services in foreign exchange markets, today announced a collaboration with TORA, provider of the industry’s most advanced cloud-based, multi-asset order and execution management system (OEMS), to link EBS Market and EBS Direct’s FX liquidity with TORA’s multi-asset platform.

NYSE Pillar Options Migration: New functionality in the Certification environment, Updates to System Specifications, New Migration Resources; NYSE Arca Options Pillar Certification Environment
As previously announced, NYSE Arca Options Pillar Certification environment (“Pillar Cert”) is now available for functional testing. Functionality available for testing in Pillar Cert includes (new adds in bold):

EBS collaborates with TORA to offer FX pricing to buy-side; Buy-side traders using TORA’s multi-asset platform will gain access to FX liquidity from CME Group’s EBS Market and EBS Direct.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
CME Group’s FX trading platform EBS has teamed up with TORA to provide multi-asset hedge funds and buy-side firms with pricing in spot FX and FX derivatives. Through the collaboration, TORA’s order and execution management system (OEMS) will be linked to the FX liquidity from CME’s quote-driven FX markets EBS Market and its central limit order book matching engine, EBS Direct.

Capital Growth Management funds integrate INDATA front-to-back solution; INDATA said its solution would improve the compliance, trading, portfolio management and operations workflows at the fund with $1 billion in assets under management.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Boston-based Capital Growth Management (CGM) has integrated the cloud-based SaaS front-to-back solution from buy-side technology provider, INDATA. CGM, which has around $1 billion in assets under management, invests in equities and treasuries within its three primary funds.

March 2021 Final Foreign Currency Settlement Prices
CME Group

Position Limits and Accountability Levels
CME Group
This revised Market Regulation Advisory Notice is being issued to advise the marketplace that the amendments to Rule 559 and this revised Advisory Notice have been approved by the CFTC.

SGX RegCo to review Y Ventures’ independent review report for potential listing rule breaches
Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) refers to Y Ventures’ announcements of 14 August 2018, 21 January 2019, 30 January 2019, 1 February 2019 and 12 March 2019 on the misstatements in its unaudited financial statements for the half year ended 30 June 2018 (HY2018). The independent reviewer, Deloitte & Touche Enterprise Risk Services Pte Ltd (Deloitte), issued its report and the company announced the same on 16 March 2021. Deloitte reported the findings directly to SGX RegCo and the audit committee of the company.

SGX RegCo allows Mainboard issuers up to 31 Dec 2021 to seek or renew Enhanced Share Issue Limit
Singapore Exchange Regulation (“SGX RegCo”) in consultation with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) has on 16 March 2021 extended the availability of the Enhanced Share Issue Limit for Mainboard issuers. We had previously announced on 8 April 2020 available here that the Enhanced Share Issue Limit will be in force until 31 December 2021. This updated announcement extends the expiry date for the Enhanced Share Issue Limit. Issuers will have up to 31 December 2021 to seek or renew a general mandate for the Enhanced Share Issue Limit, which will expire at the conclusion of the next annual general meeting or on the date by which the next annual general meeting is required by law or the SGX-ST Mainboard Listing Manual to be held, whichever is the earliest.

SGX and Marex Spectron collaborate on ferrous analytics offering
Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Marex Spectron (Marex) today announced that SGX will be adding Marex’s bespoke ferrous derivative data analytics products to its Titan OTC platform (Titan OTC), a one-stop, full-service over-the-counter (OTC) platform that supports block trade registration, order management, content and analytics across multiple asset classes and trading instruments.

Opening Address by Michael Syn, Head of Equities, SGX at the inaugural Singapore Trading Festival 2021
Thank you so much for joining us today at the first ever Singapore Trading Festival. I really appreciate you making the time for us on a Saturday morning – or Friday night for some of you! By way of introduction, I’m the Head of Equities for Singapore Exchange.

HKEX To Launch Mini USD/CNH Futures On 26 April
Reference is made to the circular dated 21 January 2021 (Ref. No.: MKD/FIC/001/21) regarding the introduction of the Mini USD/CNH Futures Contract (“the Contract”). Hong Kong Futures Exchange Limited (“the Exchange” or “HKFE”) is pleased to announce the start of trading of the Contract from T session on Monday, 26 April 2021 (“the Commencement Date”).

CME Group to Launch E-mini Nasdaq-100 Monday and Wednesday Weekly Options on April 12
PR Newswire
CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced it will expand its suite of E-mini Nasdaq-100 options with the launch of Monday and Wednesday Weekly options on April 12, pending regulatory review. These new options contracts will complement the existing Friday Weekly, End-of-Month and Quarterly options on E-mini Nasdaq-100 futures.


AlphaMaven Launches Disruptive Alternative Investment Listing Service; AlphaMaven, an Interactive Content Platform that Allows Members to Post Content and Get Feedback, Has Launched Free Listings for Fund Managers
AlphaMaven, the most visited Alternative Investment Industry website, formally launched Investment Listings with over 100 funds and managed accounts. Managers participating in the launch cover a broad cross section of the Alternative Investment universe, including Hedge Funds, CTAs, Venture Capital Funds, Private Equity Funds, Real Estate investments, and Cryptocurrency/Blockchain Investments.

Tencent Loses $62 Billion, Wiping Out Value of Fintech Business
Zheping Huang – Bloomberg
Its fintech, payments business worth $120 billion: Bernstein; Shares fall a second day on concern over regulatory scrutiny
Tencent Holdings Ltd. shares fell a second day on concern regulators are now turning their sights to Pony Ma’s business empire, fueling a $62 billion wipe-out that one brokerage says obliterated most of the value of its online finance business.

Slamming Brakes on AstraZeneca Has Side Effects; A “better safe than sorry” approach to Covid-19 vaccines can bring systemic costs.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
Thierry Breton, the European Union commissioner in charge of fixing the bloc’s mass vaccination campaign, likes to start his day with a call to AstraZeneca Plc boss Pascal Soriot to keep tabs on the supply of Covid-19 vaccines critical to immunizing the bloc’s population and reopening its economy by the summer.

Beijing Asks Alibaba to Shed Its Media Assets; Under Jack Ma’s leadership, the company built a formidable portfolio of media holdings
Jing Yang – WSJ
China’s government has asked Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA -0.69% to dispose of its media assets, as officials grow more concerned about the technology giant’s sway over public opinion in the country, according to people familiar with the matter.

China Appears to Block Signal, One of Last Popular Encrypted Messaging Apps; Service becomes unusable for many without a virtual private network, intensifying government’s hold on public and private discourse
Stephanie Yang – WSJ
Messaging app Signal became unusable for many people in mainland China this week, stifling one of the last widely used messaging apps that could send and receive encrypted messages in the country without a virtual private network.


Retail Bitcoin Traders Rival Wall Street Buyers as Mania Builds
Katherine Greifeld – Bloomberg
Buying is balanced between retail and institutions: JPMorgan; NFT craze, stimulus checks fueling day trader appetite: Oanda
The cryptocurrency market’s little guys are going toe-to-toe with the big banks as Bitcoin continues to surge to new highs, data compiled by JPMorgan Chase & Co. suggest.

BitMEX Founder Delo Surrenders to Face U.S. Laundering Charges
Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
One of the founders of pioneering crypto-derivatives exchange BitMEX surrendered to authorities to face charges that he schemed to avoid U.S. anti-money laundering laws. Benjamin Delo was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave in New York during a remote proceeding on Monday. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a $20 million bail bond.

Rich Millennials Are Splashing Millions on Crypto Art; The pandemic hit the art world hard. But an influx of young, tech-savvy collectors has kept the market buzzing.
Andrea Felsted – Bloomberg
At the end of January, an impeccably preserved painting by Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli sold for a record $92.2 million. Six weeks later, a work that could not be further from the Old Master, a digital compilation of images by an artist who goes by the name of Beeple, sold for $69.3 million.

Cryptomania gives Austria its first unicorn: Bitpanda; Bitcoin trading firms taking huge fees are making out like bandits.
Jemima Kelly – FT
A lot of people are getting very rich on crypto, while the rest of us have to er, “have fun staying poor”. But it’s not just the OG HODLers who bought low and are now making silly money as bitcoin wobbles around $60k; it’s also the trading firms charging fees on crypto transactions that anyone trading a traditional financial asset would consider pretty extortionate.

BitMEX Founder Ben Delo Surrenders to US Authorities
Sebastian Sinclair – Coindesk
One of the founders of the cryptocurrency derivatives exchange BitMEX surrendered to U.S. authorities to face charges of violating the Bank Secrecy Act on Monday. Ben Delo traveled from the U.K. to the U.S. and appeared before Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave in a remote proceeding where he pleaded not guilty, according to public court records. He was subsequently released on a $20 million bail bond, on Monday, with a status conference set for May, according to court records. Bloomberg further reported that Delo will be allowed to return to the UK under the terms of his bail.

NEM Launches Proof-of-Stake, Enterprise-Facing Blockchain Platform
Colin Harper – Coindesk
The team behind the New Economy Movement blockchain, the NEM Group, have launched a new, business-enterprise-facing project today called Symbol. Symbol is a proof-of-stake blockchain with its own token (XYM) the NEM Group is marketing as an enterprise blockchain solution for fintech, supply chains and everything in between. On Symbol’s public blockchain, PoS validators can stake a supernode with their XYM or stake their tokens in another supernode’s pool.

JPMorgan is looking for a crypto clearinghouse: Report
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Banking giant JPMorgan is reportedly looking to work with a crypto clearinghouse to add liquidity to the market. Forbes reported the news on Monday, citing a “senior JPMorgan executive,” who spoke with the publication “on background.” The executive said, “we will fundamentally need a crypto clearinghouse to see that liquidity. Once that exists, banks will move their liquidity to it.” Clearinghouses act as a middleman between buyers and sellers in financial markets. They validate and finalize transactions, ensuring that both buyers and sellers honor their contractual obligations. The JPMorgan executive told Forbes that crypto clearinghouses are needed to avoid “the kind of liquidity problems that trading app Robinhood ran into.”

eToro to Go Public Via Merger With SPAC; Combined Firm to Have $10.4B Value
Kevin Reynolds – Coindesk
Trading platform eToro said Tuesday it will become publicly traded via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Through a merger with FinTech Acquisition Corp. V, the combined entity will have a implied equity value of about $10.4 billion, reflecting an implied enterprise value for eToro of about $9.6 billion, eToro said. The deal includes $250 million in gross proceeds from FinTech V’s cash in trust from a fully committed private placement in public equity at $10.00 per share that will close at the same time as the merger. The combined company will operate as eToro Group Ltd. and be listed on the Nasdaq. eToro said it expects to have about $800 million net cash on its balance sheet.

Ledger Doubles Down on Institutional Crypto With New Business Unit and Hiring Push
Ian Allison – Coindesk
Ledger, the brand most people associate with hardware wallets, is doubling down on institutional business with a new unit and an aggressive hiring plan. Announced Tuesday, Ledger Enterprise Solutions will drive forth the firm’s institution-focused Ledger Vault, the first crypto custody technology to be publicly linked to a major bank in the form of Nomura and the Komainu consortium, which recently raised $25 million. As large financial institutions look to enter the new realm of digital assets, a handful of specialized custody technology firms, such as Anchorage, BitGo, Fireblocks and Curv (recently acquired by PayPal), are hoovering up this hand-holding business. Meanwhile, large corporate entities are also joining the party, following the likes of Tesla and MicroStrategy.

What’s India’s Beef With Bitcoin, Really?
Andy Mukherjee – Bloomberg
Contradictory statements and media leaks are making it impossible to get a handle on India’s soon-to-be-unveiled cryptocurrency policy. The uncertainty is throwing young blockchain firms and programmers into a paroxysm of anxiety: Should they leave or stay? If they hang back, should they do something else with their lives? On Sunday, the global crypto industry heaved a sigh of relief when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman categorically ruled out a much-feared blanket ban, promising to allow a window for people “to do certain experiments” using distributed ledger technologies, Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, she said at an India Today conclave. But before the ink could dry on the congratulatory press releases from entrepreneurs, Reuters cited an official with direct knowledge of the plan as saying that the new law will “criminalize possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring crypto-assets.”


What Countries Will Fight Over When Green Energy Dominates; It’s a question of when, not if, the global economy will shift away from fossil fuels. Researchers are gaming out what that means for international politics.
Marc Champion – Bloomberg
The Rand Corporation’s been designing war games with the Pentagon since the 1950s, modelling such hard-nosed security scenarios as a two-front U.S. war with China and Russia. Now the think tank is turning its realpolitik tool kit to a question more often associated with environmental dreamers: How will clean energy change the world?

Biden’s Planned Tax Hike to Hit People Earning Over $400,000 Hardest; The U.S. president’s proposal will primarily affect top earners, while states are also considering increasing taxes.
Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou – Bloomberg
With the Covid-19 relief bill behind him, U.S. President Joe Biden is turning his attention to the next item on his agenda: tax reform. He’s said to be planning the first major federal tax hike since 1993, with the aim of delivering on one of his campaign promises. Biden’s proposal will mostly affect those earning more than $400,000 a year and could prove to be the vehicle with which he’ll pay for some of his long-standing economic and infrastructure plans.


Hedge-Fund Trader Shah Now Faces Cum-Ex Charges in Germany
Karin Matussek and Ellen Milligan – Bloomberg
Hamburg indicts six others in escalation of Cum-Ex probe; Shah was also charged by Danish prosecutors in January
Sanjay Shah, the founder of hedge-fund Solo Capital Partners LLP, was charged in Germany with money laundering over trades linked to the Cum-Ex tax scandal.

SEC Signals Tougher Rules for Corporate Climate Disclosures
Daniel Avis – Bloomberg
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is sending its strongest signal yet that corporations will have to disclose more to shareholders about how climate change affects their businesses.

Wood sets aside extra $151m to settle corruption probes; Energy services group quadruples cost estimate for resolution with US, UK, Brazilian and Scottish authorities
Nathalie Thomas – FT
Wood said it expected to reach settlements with UK, US and Brazilian authorities by mid-year over their investigations into possible corruption and bribery at Amec Foster Wheeler, the rival energy services company it acquired in 2017.

SEC Obtains Emergency Asset Freeze, Charges California Trader with Posting False Stock Tweets
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges and an asset freeze and other emergency relief against an Irvine, California-based trader who used social media to spread false information about a defunct company, while secretly profiting by selling his own holdings of the company’s stock.

Public Input Welcomed on Climate Change Disclosures
Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee – SEC
In light of demand for climate change information and questions about whether current disclosures adequately inform investors, public input is requested from investors, registrants, and other market participants on climate change disclosure.

Reminder – TRAQS and Reference Data API Access
As previously communicated effective Monday, April 19, 2021, FINRA will replace digital certificates with Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) for access to the TRAQS website and will also institute system infrastructure changes for TRAQS and the API reference data software. Beginning April 19, 2021, all TRAQS users will be required to use MFA to gain access to TRAQS and will be denied access to TRAQS if they have not converted.

Proposed Rule Change to Extend the Pilot Program Related to FINRA Rule 11892 (Clearly Erroneous Transactions in Exchange-Listed Securities)
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) a proposed rule change to extend the current pilot program related to FINRA Rule 11892 (Clearly Erroneous Transactions in Exchange-Listed Securities) (“Clearly Erroneous Transaction Pilot” or “Pilot”) until October 20, 2021.

FCA starts criminal proceedings against NatWest Plc
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today announced that it has commenced criminal proceedings against National Westminster Bank Plc (NatWest) in respect of offences under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (MLR 2007).

Treasury Announces Key Staff Appointments
U.S. Department of Treasury
Today, the United States Department of the Treasury announced the appointments of staff members who will serve in key roles. This distinguished and dedicated group of individuals will deliver results for the American people by addressing the current public health and economic crises, advancing racial equity, and tackling climate change.

Bank of England governor defends self over scandal
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has defended himself after a former appeal court judge criticised evidence he gave to MPs over a scandal in which thousands lost their life savings. Mr Bailey is the former boss of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Andrew Bailey under pressure over link to RBS scandal
Edward Thicknesse – City AM
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey is under fire after it emerged that he played a role in designing a scheme that left thousands of small businesses in ruin after the financial crisis.
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey is under fire after it emerged that he played a role in designing a scheme that left thousands of small businesses in ruin after the financial crisis. Bailey was one of those who helped the Treasury design its Asset Protection Agency, which pressured lender RBS (now Natwest) to withdraw loans from customers and seize their assets.

Investing and Trading

Wall Street Is Betting You’ll Be Packing Your Bags Soon; Some of the most influential investors are wagering big on a recovery in travel. The latest trends suggest they are on to something.
Sarah Halzack – Bloomberg
The smart money is betting that the yearlong chill in travel is about to thaw. Blackstone Group Inc. and Starwood Capital Group announced a deal on Monday to buy Extended Stay America Inc. for $6 billion, following a spate of recent investment activities that suggest confidence in a recovery of the leisure and hospitality industry as vaccine rollouts hold out hope for an end to pandemic restrictions. Last week, Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. agreed to buy Diamond Resorts International Inc., combining two big players in the time-share category while earlier this month, Apollo Global Management Inc. and Vici Properties Inc. said they were buying The Venetian Resort and Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas in a deal valued at $6.25 billion. Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported recently that Dreamscape Cos. has $1 billion to put toward snapping up hotels, with its chief executive officer seeking ways to wager on the potential for a pickup in business travel.

VIX Meets Stubborn Line of Resistance as Market Fears Persist
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Cboe Volatility Index closed at lowest since Feb. on Monday; Struggle to break 20 echoes behavior after financial crisis
The stock market’s fear gauge is struggling to breach a key resistance level despite nearing its lowest since the onset of the pandemic — and such behavior has precedent. The Cboe Volatility Index closed Monday at 20.03. That was its lowest since Feb. 12, the date on which it closed below 20 for the first time since the pandemic rout gripped markets last year. The index has had similar difficulties in breaching that level in other times of stress, according to strategists.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Tidal Wave of ESG Funds Brings Profit to Wall Street
Michael Wursthorn – WSJ
Sustainability has been good for Wall Street’s bottom line.
Exchange-traded funds that explicitly focus on socially responsible investments have 43% higher fees than widely popular standard ETFs.
The environmental, social, and governance funds’ average fee was 0.2% at the end of last year, while standard ETFs that invest in U.S. large-cap stocks had a 0.14% fee on average, according to data from FactSet.

Acting chief says climate, ESG are ‘front and center for the SEC,’ ahead of new disclosure push
Chris Matthews and Robert Schroeder – MarketWatch
The acting head of the Securities and Exchange Commission called on the public for input in crafting new disclosure requirements on risks related to climate change and other environmental, social and governance issues during a speech at the Center for American Progress on Monday.
“Human capital, human rights, climate change — these issues are fundamental to our markets, and investors want to and can help drive sustainable solutions on these issues,” Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee said. “We see that unmistakably in shifts in capital toward ESG investing, we see it in investor demands for disclosure on these issues, we see it increasingly reflected on corporate proxy ballots, and we see it in corporate recognition that consumers and investors alike are watching corporate responses to these issues more closely than ever.”

Big Oil’s ‘Problematic’ ESG Claims Alienate Some Investors
Leo Laikola – Bloomberg
As companies across virtually all sectors try to latch on to the sustainability bandwagon, some investors are sounding the alarm.
Lauri Vaittinen is the chief executive of the newly created $29 billion asset management arm of Mandatum. He says everything the unit invests in will be vetted for its credentials in environmental, social and governance metrics. He also says he’s not interested in buying products marketed as ESG if they’re sold by corporations that aren’t clean across their balance sheets, and singled out the fossil-fuel industry as a prime example.

New SEC Task Force Amid Growing Materiality of ESG Disclosures
Gregory C. Pruden – The National Law Review
Earlier this month, the SEC announced the creation of a new task force to assess the disclosure of Environmental, Sustainability, and Governance, or “ESG,” information.[i] ESG encompasses a broad umbrella of corporate responsibility issues that may manifest themselves in the qualitative reporting categories set forth in Regulation S-K or (somewhat less commonly) the financial statement reporting required by Regulation S-X. Neither regulation specifically identifies categories of ESG information that must be reported. However, issuers are generally required to disclose any ESG risks material to the reasonable investor.[ii] Determination about whether a fact need be disclosed is guided by the Supreme Court definition of materiality, which requires disclosure of any fact that would “significantly alter[] the ‘total mix’ of information made available” to investors.[iii]

Saudi Arabia Wants to Pioneer Carbon-Capture Tech: Energy Update
Bloomberg News
Saudi Arabia will play its part in the global fight against climate change by pushing new technologies and ramping up its solar power capacity, the kingdom’s energy minister said.

State Street hits ESG sweet spot with US corporate bond ETF; European-domiciled fund attracts EUR4.6bn net inflows in February alone
Dawn Cowie – FT
State Street Global Advisors reported billions in net inflows last month into a recently launched US credit exchange traded fund that applies an environmental, social and governance screen.


BNP Paribas Cut 2020 Bonus Pool After ECB Pushed for Moderation
Alexandre Rajbhandari and Nicholas Comfort – Bloomberg
BNP’s bonus amount declines after mixed performance last year; Regulator putting pressure on lenders to exercise restraint
BNP Paribas SA shrank the 2020 bonus pool after the European Central Bank objected to its original plans, making it at least the second large lender in the region to be forced to adjust staff payouts.

Glencore Shakes Up Management With Three Top Traders to Exit
Jack Farchy and Javier Blas – Bloomberg
Peterson, Ives and Paraskevas will leave ‘in coming months’; Changing of the guard as Nagle succeeds Glasenberg as CEO
Glencore Plc is shaking up its top management, with three of its most senior traders set to depart — the latest step in a wider changing of the guard at the world’s largest commodity trader.

Credit Suisse Weighs Asset Management Split From Wealth Unit
Patrick Winters and Marion Halftermeyer – Bloomberg
Credit Suisse Group AG is considering splitting its asset management unit from wealth management as Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein reviews the business after the damaging Greensill scandal.

Credit Suisse Flags Trading Surge, Warns of Greensill Hit
Patrick Winters – Bloomberg
Bank may take a charge on business with Greensill Capital; Investment bank revenue up more than 50% in first two months
Credit Suisse Group AG said it recorded its best start to a year in a decade before the implosion of Greensill Capital this month pushed it into the deepest crisis since Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein took over.

Scorned 60/40 Model Finds Allies in Biggest Test Since 2016
Emily Barrett – Bloomberg
Pimco says balanced portfolio has performed despite low yields; Strategies tracked by Bloomberg are in the green year-to-date
The 60/40 portfolio saw investors through the cataclysm of the pandemic. The global recovery is now proving an even tougher test. The strategy — an investing stalwart since it arose from Harry Markowitz’s Modern Portfolio Theory about a half-century ago — was already under pressure from the historic decline in bond yields. But the sharp move in the opposite direction is a more immediate threat, as recent market volatility has triggered tandem declines in stocks and bonds.

Deutsche Bank Rides SPAC Boom to Make League Table Comeback
Steven Arons and Crystal Tse – Bloomberg
Expertise in once-niche product helps firm boost IPO ranking; Alumni of German lender also running other SPAC powerhouses
The craze for blank-check listings is helping Deutsche Bank AG make a comeback in the IPO world. Deutsche Bank, which cut back its equities team in 2019, has risen in the league tables over the past few quarters and now ranks 10th globally among advisers on initial public offerings. Special purpose acquisition companies are a big part of that success: it’s grabbing more deals than Wall Street stalwarts like Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Ex-UBS Banker Tells Judge He Doesn’t ‘Cultivate Memories at UBS’
Gaspard Sebag – Bloomberg
Paris judge asks how much wealth his Switzerland teams managed; ‘I don’t remember and don’t want to,’ Wick says at appeal
A former UBS Group AG executive who is trying to reverse a conviction at a landmark tax trial couldn’t remember the assets managed by his team focusing on French clients out of Switzerland. Philippe Wick, who ran the France International desk before leaving UBS more than a decade ago, said that “he doesn’t quite know what he’s being accused of” and wants to move on. He said his memory isn’t precise when asked by Judge Hervé Robert how much wealth his team managed.

Credit Suisse warns over hit from Greensill collapse; Swiss lender says it may have to take a charge related to the failed supply-chain finance group
Oliver Ralph and Owen Walker – FT
Credit Suisse has warned that it could face a charge stemming from the collapse of supply-chain finance group Greensill Capital. The Swiss bank has been racing to assess the scale of its exposure to Greensill, a SoftBank-backed company that claimed to be making finance fairer but which collapsed into administration this month after its insurers refused to renew cover.


China Tycoon Who Lost $32 Billion Tries to Salvage an Empire
Shirley Zhao, Venus Feng, and Rebecca Choong Wilkins – Bloomberg
Wanda Group’s cinemas, malls hit by pandemic as debt ballooned; Founder Wang Jianlin’s wealth is now a sliver of its 2015 peak
Wang Jianlin used to be Asia’s richest person, busy expanding his Dalian Wanda Group Co. by acquiring trophy assets overseas, all aided by easy credit. Now the 66-year-old doesn’t even figure among China’s top 30 richest people, having lost about $32 billion of his personal fortune in less than six years — the most for any tycoon in that period. As Wang seeks to cut the group’s total debt from 362 billion yuan ($56 billion) and turn his entertainment-to-property empire around, he’s facing skeptical bond investors.

North Sea oil and gas groups cut investment by £3bn; Drilling declines to levels last seen in 1970s as pandemic and energy transition put industry’s future in question
Nathalie Thomas – FT
Spending by oil and gas companies operating in the UK North Sea fell to the lowest levels since 2004 last year as they concentrated on preserving cash during the pandemic, while production from the more than half a century-old basin has re-entered “longer-term” decline.

Business worries intensify over China’s tightening grip on Hong Kong; After legislative changes some executives are asking: how much is too much?
Tom Mitchell – FT
For businesses and investors in Hong Kong, how much is too much? First there was an extradition bill that, if passed as planned in 2019, would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be extradited to China if they are wanted on certain charges there, including offences related to economic and financial crimes.

Bank of Japan wrestles with never-ending stimulus; Policy review may pave the way for greater variability in bond and equity purchases
Robin Harding – FT
The Bank of Japan will this week unveil the results of its biggest policy review since 2016 as the central bank grapples with the consequences of a monetary stimulus that has gone on for longer than anybody imagined.

Vanguard suspends push for China fund licence; Move by US investment manager comes shortly after unveiling plan to move Asia hub to Shanghai
Thomas Hale – FT
Vanguard has halted plans to obtain a fund management licence in China just months after moving its main Asia office to Shanghai, as the US group’s low-cost model hit speed bumps in a fast-growing market.


Brexit: the low-paid migrant workers ‘trapped’ on Britain’s farms; Employers are setting demanding targets for labourers on the UK’s seasonal work scheme
Sarah O’Connor and Judith Evans – FT
In September last year, 21-year-old engineering student Roman Kukharchuk packed his bags and prepared to leave Russia. He was heading to Scotland as part of a UK government pilot scheme, where he would work on a farm that supplies strawberries and raspberries to British supermarkets like Tesco and Marks and Spencer.

The Brexit deal was astonishingly bad, and every day the evidence piles up; Trade has plummeted and red tape has blocked our borders. Is that what ‘protecting our sovereignty’ meant?
Polly Toynbee – The Guardian
Now we know that British exports to the European Union plummeted by a cataclysmic 41% after Brexit on 1 January, what next? This is not the “slow puncture” predicted, but a big bang. Yet so far, it registers little on the political Richter scale. It should shake the government to the core, but voters are well protected from this unwelcome news by our largely pro-Brexit press. Nor does BBC news, under Brexiteer mortar fire, dare do enough to rebalance the misinformation. Saturday’s Financial Times splashed that killer trade figure on its front page, but the Daily Express splashed “Flying start for US trade deal”.

Johnson Says U.K. Will Become a Global Activist After Brexit
Kitty Donaldson, Charlotte Ryan, and Rosalind Mathieson – Bloomberg
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will redirect British foreign policy toward the Indo-Pacific region as he sets out a sweeping overhaul of the U.K.’s international priorities after Brexit. The premier will publish a 100-page blueprint for diplomacy and defense, which his officials are billing as the most wide ranging re-evaluation of the U.K.’s place in the world since the end of the Cold War. In the plan, Johnson will outline a new more activist approach to international relations on issues such as climate change and democracy as he makes clear he regards the Indo-Pacific as increasingly the geopolitical center of the world, especially with the growing clout of China. Johnson intends to visit India at the end of April on his first trip overseas since Britain left the European Union trade and market regime.

Harriet Harman proposes plan for UK musicians to tour EU post-Brexit
Laura Snapes – The Guardian
Government ignorance of the arts is putting British musicians’ livelihoods at risk, Harriet Harman has argued, in a call for an end to the post-Brexit bureaucracy for musicians looking to tour in the EU. The Labour MP today unveils a 10-point plan of proposed measures, backed by industry bodies such as the Musicians’ Union, UK Music and the Incorporated Society of Musicians, that would allow UK musicians to tour Europe without the need for visas and work permits – and the same for EU musicians visiting the UK – after a period of what she calls “unnerving silence” on the issue from the government.

Brexit: EU to begin legal action over alleged NI Protocol breach
John Campbell – BBC News
The EU has begun legal action against the UK over its alleged breach of the NI Protocol. It could lead to the UK having to defend its actions at the European Court of Justice. The European Commission’s vice president said he hopes the issue can be resolved without further legal action. Maroš Šefcovic said the EU’s preference is for “collaborative, pragmatic and constructive” political discussions. The protocol is the part of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland and has led to the creation of a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.


Bobby Bonilla and the True Story Behind Baseball’s Most Notorious Contract; Thanks to an agreement with the old owners, the former outfielder still gets a big payday every summer. The arrangement helped the Mets get to the World Series. But a new book says that no matter how effective the move was, July 1 will always be an ironic holiday for fans. It’ll always be Bobby Bonilla Day.
Devin Gordon – Bloomberg
An oft-forgotten fact about the Bobby Bonilla era with the New York Mets is that there were actually two Bobby Bonilla eras. The first one began in December 1991, when Bonilla, then 28 and a four-time All-Star with the Pittsburgh Pirates, signed a five-year, $29 million contract—Major League Baseball’s most lucrative ever up to that point—to move to Queens and anchor the Mets offense.

Facebook Agrees to Pay for Murdoch’s Australia News Content; The deal with News Corp follows a standoff over legislation passed by the Australian government to compensate publishers.
Livia Albeck-Ripka – NY Times
Facebook has agreed to pay Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for its journalism content in Australia, a month after the social media platform temporarily blocked news links inside the country over legislation pressing digital giants to compensate publishers.

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