Fines & Penalties Monitor: May 2017

Fines and settlements paid by our large bank group significantly picked up for the month of May.  Six of the 18 largest institutions headquartered in the U.S. and Europe paid out a combined $1.5 billion, doubling our total for the previous four months to $3.3 billion.

The majority of the additions to our total come from three large settlements, two of which involved the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The NCUA has received $400 million from Credit Suisse and $445 from UBS to settle claims over toxic residential mortgage-backed securities.  Both of these banks were accused of selling mortgage-backed securities that led to the failure of several credit unions.  As of May, legal recoveries by the NCUA on behalf of five failed corporate credit unions that purchased residential mortgage-backed securities have reached $5.1 billion.

In the third of our large settlements, BNP Paribas SA agreed to pay a $350 million penalty to resolve allegations by New York’s banking regulator that foreign-exchange traders at the French bank engaged in collusion to manipulate currency rates. The New York Department of Financial Services said deficient oversight at BNP Paribas “allowed nearly unfettered misconduct” among traders and salespeople in the bank’s foreign-exchange business, in violation of New York banking laws.

Three smaller settlements were also assessed. First, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) found that Barclays Plc’s unit Barclays Capital Inc. overcharged its asset management business clients.  According to the cease-and-desist order issued by the agency, Barclays Capital improperly overcharged $50 million in fees to several clients of its wealth and investment management business from September 2010 through December 2015.  Barclays agreed to pay $94 million to settle the claims.

In addition, Citigroup has agreed to settle with federal authorities for $97 million over claims that a lack of BSA/AML controls at the bank’s Banamex USA subsidiary may have resulted in customers laundering money to Mexico.  As part of the deal, Citigroup said it would shut down Banamex USA.

Finally, Lloyds Banking Group Plc is setting aside up to £80 million ($104 million) to compensate customers who were mis-sold structured investment products incorrectly billed as low-risk.  More than 7,000 customers are expected to be offered compensation.

While the number of settlements have increased, the year to date amount for our bank group remains well below this time last year. However, litigation appears to be picking up as we move into the middle of the year, especially as regulators turn their attention to consumer protection action, which we highlighted last month.  Keep an eye out for our blog post next month as we continue to monitor the situation!

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