Robinhood Settles Claims It Didn’t Ensure Best Prices for Customer Trades

Dec 20, 2019

First Read

Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

The London Stock Exchange says 2019 was a year of innovation.~JJL

The Technical Company is saying goodbye to 2019 and hello to 2020 in a LinkedIn post.~JJL

BGC Partners has named Steven Bisgay as chief financial officer effective January 1, 2020, replacing Sean A. Windeatt, who was Interim CFO. Windeatt will remain in his role as COO. Also, effective January 1, 2020, Anthony Warner and Julian Swain will assume the newly created positions of co-heads of global brokerage alongside Jean-Pierre Aubin, global head of listed products and Paris.~SR

There is a lot or regulatory news yet again today. Regulators really like to get issues and cases out before the end of the year, so the annual report looks good.~JJL

Katten partners Karen Artz Ash, Cindi Giglio and Susan Light were named “Notable Women in Law” by Crain’s New York Business for their outstanding contributions to the legal industry.~JJL

Nasdaq is looking further for several more interested and skilled people and has 34 jobs in Stockholm available, including 6 new jobs.~JJL


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CME’s Duffy extends contract, gets bigger bonus; The CEO agreed to stick around through 2023, and he’ll be entitled to an annual bonus worth twice his salary.
Lynne Marek – Crain’s Chicago Business
CME Group Chairman and CEO Terry Duffy is planning to stick around at the futures exchange company for at least four more years, and the Chicago company is making it worth his while.

**** Terry Duffy has had a great run at the CME Group, and it will continue through 2023.~JJL


Nasdaq Advances Corporate Sustainability Leadership in 2019; Reduces Carbon Footprint to Zero through Offset Purchase Program
Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) announced today its milestones achieved in 2019 to advance its environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices as part of its company-wide commitment to sustainability. Nasdaq’s ESG efforts were successfully reflected both in its work with corporate clients as well as within its own operations.

*****Nasdaq showing leadership yet again and again.~JJL


Grape expectations: Investors rediscover a taste for fine wine; Money is swilling back into a market that suffered a crash at the start of the decade
Laurence Fletcher – FT
Daniele Marano knows that making money by trading wine is not always easy. The former Tullett Prebon credit broker has made big gains on Burgundies in recent years, but bought some of the sought-after 2010 Lafite Rothschild earlier this decade — right before the market tanked.

******They heard I was drinking wine again.~JJL


The Hacker Who Took Down a Country; Daniel Kaye, also known as Spdrman, found regular jobs tough but corporate espionage easy. He’s about to get out of prison.
Kit Chellel – Bloomberg
The attack against Liberia began in October 2016. More than a half-million security cameras around the world tried to connect to a handful of servers used by Lonestar Cell MTN, a local mobile phone operator, and Lonestar’s network was overwhelmed. Internet access for its 1.5 million customers slowed to a crawl, then stopped.

*****Danny Kaye was an incredible entertainer, but this is not funny.~JJL


CryptoMarketsWiki Coin of the Week: Libra
Patrick Ellis, a board member of the Libra Association, told Reuters that the association did not have a solid launch strategy in place. He said that it was “too early” to do so, and that as talks with regulators continued, Libra planned to shape its strategy accordingly.


Thursday’s Top Three
Our most read story Thursday was Vox’s disheartening Google’s Larry Page gave $400 million in Christmas donations. Not a penny went straight to charity. Second was The Trade’s Bank of England confirms high-speed traders hacked audio feed. And third was Bloomberg’s These Are the Trades That Gutted Bonuses This Year.


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Lead Stories

Robinhood Settles Claims It Didn’t Ensure Best Prices for Customer Trades; The online brokerage agreed to pay $1.25 million
Dave Michaels – WSJ
Robinhood Financial Inc. the online brokerage that has targeted millennials with commission-free trades, agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle regulatory claims it didn’t take steps to ensure it was getting the best prices for customer orders.

Andrew Bailey wins race to become Bank of England governor; Chief of Financial Conduct Authority to be 121st head of central bank
Chris Giles and Caroline Binham – FT
Andrew Bailey will become the 121st governor of the Bank of England, chancellor Sajid Javid announced on Friday, capping his long career at the central bank and in financial regulation with the top job.

World Bank warns on ‘towering’ $55tn emerging market debt pile; Fastest and widest surge in borrowing poses risk should era of low interest rates end
Tommy Stubbington – FT
Developing countries racked up a “towering” $55tn of debt by the end of last year, in a borrowing surge since the financial crisis that has been the fastest and widest in modern history, according to World Bank research.

Sweden fears it may have created a negative-rates monster; Central bank raises rate to zero and says it expects to hold it there ‘in coming years’
Katie Martin – FT
You have to tip your hat to the Riksbank. The Swedish central bank has been the canary in the monetary coal mine for years, exasperating analysts by pushing benchmark interest rates way below zero even while the economy was roaring ahead, and keeping them there even while it openly fretted about a housing bubble. Now the bank has raised rates, dragging them higher just as the economy is starting to weaken, citing fears that it may have created a monster.

Goldman Sachs in Talks to Admit Guilt, Pay $2 Billion Fine to Settle 1MDB Probe; Wall Street bank could install monitor as part of deal with Justice Department
Liz Hoffman and Aruna Viswanatha – WSJ
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS -0.22% is in talks with the U.S. government to pay a multibillion-dollar fine, admit guilt and agree to continuing oversight of its compliance procedures in order to resolve a criminal investigation into its role in a Malaysian corruption scandal.

Investors Blindsided as Europe Upends Dispute-Resolution System; EU’s move could set back the bloc’s efforts to make itself a home for investment
Valentina Pop – WSJ
The European Union is set to annul more than $6 billion in damage claims by investors, as it replaces a decades-old system of private arbitration with national courts.

Bank of England and Fed examine traders’ access to audio feeds; Fears of early lead for hedge funds with access to central bank news before broadcast
Katie Martin, Brendan Greeley and Caroline Binham – FT
The US and UK central banks are scrutinising their broadcast feeds for potential weak spots after the revelation that some traders and hedge funds may have been paying for early audio access to the Bank of England’s press conferences.

Repo Oracle Zoltan Pozsar Expects Even More Turmoil; The Credit Suisse analyst foresaw the recent trouble in the financial system’s plumbing. He says it’s not over.
Tracey Alloway, Matthew Boesler, Liz McCormick – Bloomberg
In September an often overlooked but vital part of the global financial system short-circuited. It’s called the overnight repurchase agreement, or “repo,” market, and when it seized up, the interest rate that institutional borrowers had to pay for very short-term loans went (briefly) through the roof.

Robinhood app cheated users: financial watchdog
Thornton McEnery – NY Post
Robinhood — an app that promises millennials no-fee stock market trades — was caught selling its own customer trade orders to big Wall Street firms in deals that may have cheated users on the prices they paid for shares, a financial watchdog found.

Robinhood trading app fined for ‘failures’
Matt Egan, CNN Business
Nothing is free, not even free trading. That point was driven home by “failures” uncovered by regulators at zero-commission trading app Robinhood.FINRA, Wall Street’s self-regulator, fined Robinhood $1.25 million Thursday for sending customer trading orders to four broker-dealers without guaranteeing the best price. Those broker-dealers — probably market makers such as high-frequency trading firms — paid Robinhood for executing the trades with them, FINRA said. That controversial industry practice is known as payment for order flow.

The Beginning of the End of Tax Secrecy; As social pressures on companies build, Shell has voluntarily published the taxes it pays in each country
Rochelle Toplensky – WSJ
While President Trump has battled to keep his tax returns private, global companies are deciding to go public with the taxes they pay—or don’t pay—before they are forced.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Eurex fixed income sales and clearing deputy global head departs after 14 years; Byron Baldwin has been with Eurex in various business development roles since 2005, and will be replaced by Tom Gits.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Eurex Group veteran and deputy global head of fixed income trading and sales, Byron Baldwin, will leave the exchange operator at the end of this month after 14 years.

Eurex EnLight: Temporary transaction fee waiver for certain Eurex EnLight trades
Eurex Circular 126/19 Eurex EnLight: Temporary transaction fee waiver for certain Eurex EnLight trades

Activation of the Low Frequency (LF) Gateway topology changes in the T7 production environment
As previously described in the T7 8.0 Release Notes, preparatory software changes were made together with T7 Release 8.0 in November 2019 to remove the possibility that Low Frequency (LF) gateway requests may overtake Partition Specific (PS) gateway requests during high load scenarios.

Intercontinental Exchange Reaches Open Interest Records in Brent Crude Oil Futures and TTF Natural Gas
Intercontinental Exchange
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, today announced record open interest of 2.71 million contracts in Brent Crude Oil futures and 2.21 million contracts in TTF futures and options. As of December 17, and on a year-over-year basis, Brent Crude Oil futures open interest is up 22% versus the prior year, while open interest across TTF futures and options is up 73%.

Update of MOEX Trade Currency
Moscow Exchange
Dear FX market clients, On 23 December 2019 the new version of the FX market terminal will be released – MOEX Trade Currency This version includes some improvements for Request for Stream…

Julie Becker Appointed Deputy CEO Of LuxSE
The Board of Directors of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE) has appointed Julie Becker as Deputy CEO of LuxSE. In this strategic position, Julie Becker will act as an alternate to Robert Scharfe – who has been at the helm of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange since 2012 – in expanding the exchange’s international footprint, further strengthening its role in sustainable finance, and leading the 90-year-old financial institution into a digital future.

Boerse Stuttgart And SBI Holdings Establish Partnership In Digital Asset Business
Boerse Stuttgart Group and SBI Group will establish a partnership in Europe and Asia, including Japan, in the digital asset business. Both partners will collaborate in order to create a truly global end-to-end ecosystem for digital assets, utilizing blockchain technology.

BME Partners With Garrigues To Promote The Pre Maket Environment In Andalusia And Extremadura
The Management and Monitoring Committee of BME’s Pre Market Environment has agreed to incorporate Garrigues as a strategic partner to promote the initiative in Andalusia and Extremadura. With this addition, there are already 13 firms that accompany EpM companies by showing them their experience and which are part of their training.

The World Federation Of Exchanges Responds To Monetary Authority Of Singapore On Approach For Derivatives Contracts On Payment Tokens
The World Federation of Exchanges (“WFE”), the global industry group for exchanges and central counterparties (“CCPs”), has today responded to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (“MAS”) Consultation Paper on Proposed Regulatory Approach for Derivatives Contracts on Payment Tokens (crypto assets).

MIAX:Electronic Filing Of Annual Reports
This alert is a reminder that, in connection with the Regulatory Services Agreement between MIAX PEARL and FINRA, the filing of annual report has been transitioned to the electronic filing platform available via FINRA’s Firm Gateway located at


ESG investors are taking on Big Tech; Silicon Valley is being targeted using techniques honed on oil and gas groups
Gillian Tett – FT
What do Aviva, HSBC, Legal & General, Nomura and Northern Trust have in common? They all agreed this year to lobby Silicon Valley’s biggest social media companies about content.

LSEG: Cloud Enables Better Visualization Tools; Advances made in the exchange group’s cloud program have filtered down to help improve its data offerings.
Josephine Gallagher – WatersTechnology
Cloud technology is not just about storing vast amounts of data remotely. Many firms are trying to find ways of leveraging the increased computing power it offers.

CRISIL to acquire Greenwich Associates LLC; Acquisition positions CRISIL’s Coalition business as the premier provider of global benchmarking analytics across financial services
CRISIL, an S&P Global Company, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Greenwich Associates LLC (‘Greenwich’), a leading provider of proprietary benchmarking data, analytics and qualitative, actionable insights that helps financial services firms worldwide measure and improve business performance. Greenwich, a Stamford, Connecticut-based company, serves over 300 of the top investment banks, corporate banks, commercial banks, asset managers and key players in the market infrastructure space globally.


Congress Considers Federal Crypto Regulators In New Cryptocurrency Act Of 2020
Jason Brett – Forbes
As Congress prepares to recess for the holidays, it is a fitting end to 2019, notably marked by the reaction of U.S. lawmakers to the introduction of Project Libra by Facebook, that a bill has surfaced that would provide a sweeping regulatory framework for digital assets including cryptocurrencies.

Ripple Raises $200 Million to Push Adoption of XRP Cryptocurrency
Jeff John Roberts – Fortune
Ripple, a San Francisco-based company that uses cryptocurrency to move money across borders, announced a massive funding round on Thursday that values the company at $10 billion. The $200 million Series C funding round, which was led by global investment firm Tetragon, could help validate Ripple’s claim that more banks and money transmitters will embrace the cryptocurrency XRP for international transactions.

How Cryptocurrency Swaps Are Taxed
Shehan Chandrasekera – Forbes
One rising phenomenon behind cryptocurrency related projects is a crypto swap. A crypto swap occurs when one cryptocurrency is deprecated in exchange for a replacement. Unlike a cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency trade (e.g. bitcoin for ether) which is clearly a taxable event per IRS A15, a cryptocurrency swap (e.g. single collateral SAI for multi-collateral DAI) is a unique type of transaction without clear IRS guidance. In this post, we will discuss what token swaps are and the relevant tax implications.

Former NFL Minority Owner to Change Plea in Cryptocurrency Case
Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
An Arizona businessman who once held a minority stake in the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings is likely to admit next month that he took part in running an illegal shadow bank for cryptocurrency traders, according to a court filing. A federal judge in New York agreed to hold a hearing Jan. 10 to let Reginald Fowler change his plea — an indication that he probably intends to plead guilty to at least some of the charges he faces. Fowler pleaded not guilty in May to charges he and an Israeli woman, Ravid Yosef, ran an unlicensed money-transmitting operation tied to virtual currency trading. Yosef remains at large.

Binance Takes Minority Stake in Crypto Derivatives Exchange FTX
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Binance Holdings Ltd., one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency-trading platforms, made a minority investment in the derivatives exchange FTX. The investment was in the “tens of millions,” and values FTX, which debuted in May, in the “hundreds of million of dollars,” said Sam Bankman-Fried, who founded the exchange and also heads the crypto-trading firm Alameda Research. FTX does about $500 million in daily volume, making it the world’s seventh-largest Bitcoin futures exchange, according to analytics provider Skew. Malta-based Binance is the first outside investor in FTX, Bankman-Fried said in a phone interview.

Fortress to Redouble Efforts to Purchase Mt. Gox Creditor Claims
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Fortress Investment Group LLC is redoubling efforts to buy up creditor claims from the defunct Mt. Gox cryptocurrency exchange, albeit at a lower price than in an initial proposal earlier this year. The private-equity and hedge-fund firm sent letters this month to creditors offering to pay 70% of their account value. The one-page proposal, which Bloomberg News obtained from a person who said they weren’t authorized to speak on the manner, said lawsuits brought recently against the Mt. Gox Estate “threaten to delay and dilute distributions on your claim.”

Facebook’s Libra Lacks Solid Plan for Launch- Governing Board Member
Reuters via the New York Times
Facebook’s Libra project has no solid plan yet for how or where it will be launched next year, a member of the board that will oversee the cryptocurrency told Reuters on Thursday. The scope of Libra’s introduction, due by the end of June, depends on talks with regulators, said Patrick Ellis, one of five board members of the Geneva-based Libra Association that will issue and govern the digital currency.

Crypto companies reportedly face questions at meeting with Shenzhen finance regulator
Yilun Cheng – The Block
Eight crypto companies were questioned by local authorities in Shenzhen, China. On Dec 18, Shenzhen Financial Bureau hosted a meeting on regulating illegal crypto-related business activities, Beijing media outlet BBT News reported, where authorities questioned representatives from the companies. According to the report, two of these businesses allegedly opened up trading venues and six of them have allegedly conducted initial coin offerings (ICO).

Binance invests ‘tens of millions’ in Alameda Research-backed crypto derivatives platform FTX
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has doubled down its efforts to grow market share in the derivatives space. The exchange has acquired an equity stake in Alameda Research-backed crypto derivatives platform FTX. While the investment amount was not disclosed by Binance, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of FTX, told The Block that it is in the “tens of millions.” The news follows Binance’s recent acquisition of little-known derivatives platform JEX in September, which was renamed to Binance JEX. FTX, on the other hand, will continue to operate as an independent entity.

The U.S. government is using CoinMarketCap to value seized crypto
Mike McSweeney – The Block
A report published Wednesday by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General reveals that the U.S. government uses the popular industry data site CoinMarketCap to assess the value of seized cryptocurrencies. The factoid is featured in the report entitled “Audit of the Assets Forfeiture Fund and Seized Asset Deposit Fund Annual Financial Statements Fiscal Year 2019,” the objective of which is to “opine on the financial statements, report on internal control over financial reporting, and report on compliance and other matters, including compliance with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996 (FFMIA).”

German Stock Exchange Plans International Digital Asset ‘Ecosystem’ Through New Partnership With SBI
Daniel Palmer – Coindesk
German stock exchange owner Boerse Stuttgart Group and Japanese financial giant SBI Group are teaming up on a joint initiative to expand their digital assets businesses internationally. The two firms said in a press release on Friday that they will establish a partnership in Europe and Asia, including Japan, with the ultimate aim of developing “a truly global end-to-end ecosystem for digital assets, utilizing blockchain technology.”

GSR Partners With Canaan-Backed Startup to Offer Crypto Miners Derivatives
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
Liquidity provider GSR is introducing derivative products to help crypto mining companies hedge their risks against price volatility after partnering with Interhash, a mining services startup backed by Canaan Creative. The companies announced on Friday that a new set of derivatives contracts, including swaps, would help miners manage their risks when running operations in 2020, including the upcoming bitcoin halving (when the amount of bitcoin produced per block mined is cut in half).

Iran President: We Need a Muslim Cryptocurrency to Fight the US Dollar
David Pan – Coindesk
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Muslim world needs its own cryptocurrency to fight American economic domination in international trade and cut reliance on the dollar, AP reported.


Robert Harris: ‘Johnson must fancy himself as Caesar’; The novelist on Cicero’s lessons for Brexit Britain, Labour’s future — and how to write a bestseller a year
Frederick Studemann – FT
Midway through our lunch, Robert Harris lets slip that I am stepping in some pretty big footsteps. “I sat in this very pub with Boris Johnson 20 years ago,” the thriller writer says. Johnson had come to interview Harris about his Cicero trilogy of novels set in classical Rome, a subject of shared interest. “I occasionally got a word in,” he recalls with a chuckle.

What does millions in ad spending get you? So far for Bloomberg, a few points
Jason Lange, Chris Kahn – Reuters
U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has spent more on campaign ads in the last few weeks than his main Democratic rivals have all year. Yet his level of support has barely risen, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Christianity Today, influential evangelical magazine, says Trump ‘should be removed from office’
Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Influential evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, released an editorial Thursday calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office. “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Mark Galli, penned.

Congress Passes Sweeping Overhaul of Retirement System; Bill encourages 401(k) plans to offer products with guaranteed income payment
Anne Tergesen – WSJ
Congress passed the most significant changes to the nation’s retirement system in more than a decade, a move designed to help Americans save more.

Ex-Goldman Partner Has a Plan to Fix Connecticut’s Broken Economy
Martin Z Braun – Bloomberg
David Lehman’s hire as top adviser came despite role in crisis; The state is losing jobs and its economy ranks near the bottom
David Lehman’s appointment to the top economic post in the state of Connecticut was bound to cause a stir.


FINRA Fines Robinhood Financial, LLC $1.25 Million for Best Execution Violations
FINRA announced today that it has fined Robinhood Financial, LLC $1.25 million for best execution violations related to its customers’ equity orders and related supervisory failures that spanned from October 2016 to November 2017. As part of the settlement, Robinhood also agreed to retain an independent consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of the firm’s systems and procedures related to best execution.

Bank of England’s internal controls come under scrutiny; Revelation over broadcasts suggests serious failure to police contractors
FT reporters
Iron gates that protect the underground vaults where gold is stored at the Bank of England highlight how paramount security is at the central bank’s London headquarters on Threadneedle Street.

Regulator Probes What’s Public as Traders Access Fast BOE Feed
Jonathan Browning – Bloomberg
Financial Conduct Authority to look into audio breach; Bank of England says traders given improper access to session
As the U.K.’s financial regulator probes whether traders got an unfair advantage by listening to Bank of England press conferences, it will have to get over one immediate hurdle: whether that information was public in the first place.

Veteran watchdog Bailey to guide Bank of England through Brexit
William Schomberg, David Milliken – Reuters
Britain’s new government named Andrew Bailey as the Bank of England’s next boss on Friday, entrusting a veteran regulator and technocrat with steering the economy and its vast finance industry through Brexit.

FCA chief Andrew Bailey named Governor of the Bank of England; Andrew Bailey has been chief executive of the FCA since July 2016, and will take on the leadership role at the Bank of England in March next year.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Andrew Bailey, the chief executive of the UK’s financial watchdog, has been named the new Governor of the Bank of England replacing Mark Carney, in a move largely welcomed by the buy-side.

Whistleblower policies required from 1 January 2020 for certain large and public companies
ASIC reminds public companies, large proprietary companies, and corporate trustees of superannuation entities regulated by APRA that they are required to have a whistleblower policy and make it available to their officers and employees by 1 January 2020.

ASIC publishes findings from 2018 – 19 Regtech Initiative Series
Regulatory technology (regtech) will be a ‘must have’ for large firms in Australia’s financial services industry, according to ASIC’s Regtech Initiatives 2018 – 19 report.

ESMA provides updated XML schema and reporting instructions for securitisation reporting
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets’ regulator, has today published updated reporting instructions and XML schema for the templates set out in the technical standards on disclosure requirements.

ESMA updates ESEF XBRL taxonomy files to facilitate implementation of the ESEF regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU securities markets regulator, has updated today the ESEF XBRL taxonomy files to reflect the 2019 update of the ESEF Regulation

ESMA: further action needed on fees for credit ratings and Trade Repository services
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a Follow Up to the Thematic Report on fees charged by Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) and Trade Repositories (TRs).

FINRA Announces Regional Committee, SFAC and NAC Election Results and Appointments
FINRA recently held annual elections to fill vacancies on its Regional Committees, Small Firm Advisory Committee (SFAC) and the National Adjudicatory Council (NAC). Additionally, at its December meeting, the FINRA Board of Governors (FINRA Board) also selected individuals to fill several appointed seats on the SFAC and NAC. This Notice lists the individuals recently elected and appointed to the Regional Committees, SFAC and NAC. Questions concerning this Notice may be directed to Jennifer Piorko Mitchell, Vice President and Deputy Corporate Secretary, by email or (202) 728-8949.

SEC Approves Amendments to FINRA Rules 5130 and 5131 Relating to Equity IPOs
Effective Date: January 1, 2020
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved a rule change to amend FINRA Rule 5130 (Restrictions on the Purchase and Sale of Initial Equity Public Offerings) and FINRA Rule 5131 (New Issue Allocations and Distributions) to modify the rules to enhance regulatory consistency and address unintended operational impediments.1 These changes become effective on January 1, 2020.

SEC Charges Recidivist Investment Adviser With Defrauding Retirees
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Sacramento, California-based investment adviser firm Springer Investment Management, Inc. dba Springer Financial Advisors (SFA) and owner Keith Springer with defrauding hundreds of retail clients, most of them in or close to retirement.

Small Business Advocate Releases First Annual Report
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation today released its inaugural Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2019. The report is available for download here.

SEC Files Charges in Ponzi Scheme Targeting Hispanic Community
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Edward Espinal, of Wayne, New Jersey, and his company, Cash Flow Partners LLC, in connection with an alleged $5 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded at least 90 investors, many of whom were members of the Hispanic community.

CFTC Awards More Than $1 Million to Whistleblower
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced it will award more than $1 million to a whistleblower whose tip helped expose a scheme that violated the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and eventually led to the CFTC filing charges. The individual first provided the information through their employer’s internal compliance program to another regulator and then subsequently provided that information directly to the CFTC.

FCM and RFED filing requirements for Christmas and New Year’s Day—Reminder for upcoming holidays
This is a reminder that the following futures commission merchant (FCM) and retail foreign exchange dealer (RFED) regulatory filings will be impacted as follows by the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays:

The Financial Services Regulatory Partners Phoenixing Group
The Financial Services Regulatory Partners Phoenixing Group have met to discuss the progress which they have seen in tackling phoenixing in financial services since the group was launched in April this year.

Investing and Trading

Repo risks still hang over upbeat end to year in markets; Many key threats to investors have been contained, but wrinkles in short-term lending remain
Robin Wigglesworth – FT
Global equity indices hit new records this week, but the year in markets usually takes the shape of an album. Most of the hits are front-loaded, the middle can be uneven, and it can get a bit weird right at the end.


Aberdeen Standard Investments to take over Woodford Income Focus fund; £268m fund has been suspended since October as administrator weighed options for its future
Myles McCormick – FT
Neil Woodford’s £268m Income Focus fund will be taken over by Aberdeen Standard Investments, its administrator said on Friday, putting an end to a period of uncertainty over its future.

BlackRock and Temasek Are in Talks on Joint Venture in China
Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Firms to take majority stake in local business with CCB; U.S. asset manager has long targeted China as area for growth
BlackRock Inc. and Temasek Holdings Pte are in discussions to start an asset management business in China along with one of the country’s biggest banks.

Goldman Officers May See Trial as Malaysia Pursues 1MDB Case
Yantoultra Ngui and Yudith Ho – Bloomberg
‘Pacific Ocean gulf’ between the two sides in settlement talks; Thomas is seeking to recoup $8-9 billion from Goldman for 1MDB
Malaysia’s top prosecutor said he’s ready to ratchet up a criminal case against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for its role in the 1MDB affair by bringing executives of the U.S. bank to court, as the two sides remain far apart following several rounds of settlement talks.

HSBC Defends Itself After Shuttered Account Linked to Hong Kong Arrests
Alfred Liu – Bloomberg
HSBC Holdings Plc moved to defend itself after Hong Kong police announced arrests linked to an account the bank closed last month.

A Banker Drew Macquarie Into a German Tax Scandal. It Became a Costly Bargain
Donal Griffin and Karin Matussek – Bloomberg
German court hears of tax trades that were vastly profitable; Macquarie among banks probed in case of dividend-tax skimming
In 2005, as Macquarie Group Ltd. executives plotted an aggressive expansion to transform the Australian infrastructure investor into a global financial force, a banker in London pitched them an idea.

50 Ways to Leave Your Hedge Fund; There’s more than one option for founders who call it quits
Katherine Burton – Bloomberg
Quitting is never easy — especially for the alpha types who make up the $3 trillion hedge fund industry. Yet some of the best-known founders have thrown in the towel this year after fortune-making decades in the business.


Understanding the Lebanese financial crisis
Fadi Hassan, a research associate at the Center for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Ugo Panizza, a professor of economics and the Pitchet chair in finance and development at the Graduate Institute in Geneva – FT
Lebanon, a politically troubled but upper middle-income Middle Eastern state, is in the midst of a deep financial and political crisis. Banks have been intermittently closed since mid-October and depositors across the country are finding it impossible to gain access to dollar balances.

Germany arrives late to green bonds party; Europe’s benchmark debt issuer plans issuance of debut green bond next year
Anna Gross – FT
Germany will join a wave of governments across Europe in issuing green bonds in the second half of next year, responding to increased investor interest in this form of debt as it tries to underline its eco-friendly credentials.


Brexit’s ‘done’, what will we talk about now? ‘It is hard to remember the time when politics seemed dull and when conversation meandered lightly across life’
Robert Shrimsley – FT
What are we all going to talk about now? For three years, Brexit has dominated conversation. Now there is a gaping hole where the Irish backstop used to be.

Brexit Britain Is Still the Promised Land for Desperate Migrants; As the U.K. prepares to leave the EU, asylum seekers are trying harder to get there.
Caroline Alexander, John Ainger – Bloomberg
Night is falling on the small Belgian town of Gembloux and with the darkness comes another shot at completing an epic journey.

Eaton Vance establishes Dublin office amid Brexit uncertainty; Boston-based Eaton Vance launched the Dublin office in response to demand for increased support in Europe ahead of Brexit.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Boston-based asset manager Eaton Vance is expanding its global reach with a new office in Dublin, following client demand to establish a continental European presence ahead of Brexit.

UK PM Johnson promises to wrap up parliament Brexit vote for Christmas
Elizabeth Piper, Kylie MacLellan – Reuters
The British parliament will vote on Boris Johnson’s deal to leave the European Union on Friday, a move the prime minister described as delivering on his promise to “get the Brexit vote wrapped up for Christmas” after his landslide election victory.

U.K. Bank Ring Fence May Store Up as Much Trouble as Brexit
Harry Wilson and Silla Brush
Big banks’ trapped capital squeezes small fry out of mortgages; Small banks making riskier loans as a result, lobby chief says
Britain took a step into uncharted territory this year, aiming to make its banks safer. But it might have just driven risk to places where it’s less manageable than before.


Philanthropists Are Rethinking How They Give Away Their Money; Generous donors are starting to feel like they should do more than write a check.
Amanda L Gordon – Bloomberg
From tax reform to impact investing, there are a number of incentives and trends that are changing the way people approach philanthropy. Here we look at some ways charitable giving could further evolve.

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