Deutsche Bank Steps in Doo-Doo, Again!


Germany’s Biggest Bank Banged $12.5 mil by Finra for Hooting and Hollering via Firm’s Squawk Box

For those not following the travails of Germany’s biggest investment bank and broker-dealer Deutsche Bank, suffice to say this bank has had its full share of comeuppance throughout the past many months. If nothing stings more than getting hit with a big fat fine from Finra, the sting is more palpable when its a $12.5 million smack for hooting and hollering confidential information over a company-wide ‘squawk box.’ Below courtesy of Business Insider columnist Portia Crowe:

(Business Insider) Aug 8-Deutsche Bank allowed potentially confidential research and trading information to be broadcast over internal speakers, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra.

That body fined Deutsche Bank $12.5 million after finding that the German bank was aware that broadcasts, known as “hoots” or “squawks,” contained potentially confidential or price-sensitive information but “repeatedly ignored red flags” suggesting it wasn’t adequately supervising the loud systems.

Traders regularly communicate across desks over internal speaker systems known as “squawk boxes.”

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At least one registered representative of the firm communicated potentially confidential and/or material nonpublic information to customers as a result of the supervisory deficiencies, according to a filing from Finra.

That provided the recipients with a potential informational advantage over other customers.

“Deutsche Bank’s disregard of years of red flags including internal audit findings, risk assessments, and compliance recommendations was particularly egregious given the risk that material nonpublic information could be communicated over squawk boxes,” Finra’s chief of enforcement, Brad Bennett, said in a statement.

Deutsche Bank neither admitted to nor denied the charges. The full story via this link to Business Insider

BrokerDealer-Backed Symphony Is Singing Happy Tune

symphony blog update is courtesy of coverage from Tech Talk and profiles the latest from Symphony, the brokerdealer-backed financial communications program that is looking to make the Bloomberg terminals (or at least their most-used messaging application) mute.

This David v. Goliath type battle pitting well-backed upstarts against the ubiquitous Bloomberg LP could become a trend among other aspiring fintech, trading system and specialty financial data providers and terminals  when considering last week’s snafu that, for a few hours, rendered the Bloomberg LP terminal farm “tradus interruptus” across the globe (albeit, the fix was made prior to the opening bell of US markets.)

Tom Glocer
Tom Glocer

As spotted first by of all places, the NY Post, “Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters and a managing partner of Angelic Ventures, is joining Symphony’s board of directors, according to a person directly familiar with the company’s plans (according to the NY Post).”

Symphony, which received a $66 million investment last year from 15 financial companies has been seen as a viable alternative to the $24,000-a-year Bloomberg terminal.

The company’s backers include a who’s who of Wall Street financial companies: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNY Mellon, BlackRock, Citadel, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Jefferies, JPMorgan, Maverick, Morgan Stanley, Nomura and Wells Fargo.

Last fall, these companies contributed $66M to finance Symphony, and using that money, purchased Perzo, a company that was building a secure communications platform. After the purchase, they named Perzo founder David Gurle as Symphony CEO.

In addition to providing encrypted chat services, Symphony doesn’t store any communications as a third party, and allows a bank’s compliance officers to stop chats from leaving the company — an increasingly important factor for banks who are seeing chat records in court papers.

The addition of Glocer is only the latest of alum of the news and financial data company to join Symphony.

David Gurle, Symphony’s founder and CEO, was global head of collaborative services at Thomson Reuters, and worked on the company’s chat tool, according to the company’s Web site.

In addition to Gurle, there’s Eran Barak, Symphony’s global head of business operations, and Koray Oztekin and Ann Demirtjis, who do product management, according to the company’s Web site.
At least four other Symphony employees in business development have formerly worked at Thomson Reuters, according to LinkedIn.

Symphony is already in wide use at Goldman Sachs, which led the round of funding last year. The service is expected to be broadly rolled out to Wall Street by July.

BrokerDealer WhistleBlowers Beware: Arbitration is a Double-Edged Sword blog update re the Finra arbitration process is courtesy of extract from 31 Aug New York Times story by Gretchen Morgenson

nytimes logoFive years ago, Sean Martin, a registered representative at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York, saw something troubling on his trading desk.

A few of his colleagues, he said, were letting preferred hedge fund clients listen in on confidential market commentary by the firm’s analysts before their views were made public. He alerted his superiors and was almost immediately given a negative review, a first in more than 10 years at the firm, he said. His bosses also removed him from the group he’d been working with and cut his compensation.

Mr. Martin, who continues to work at Deutsche Bank, said he believed that he was being punished for reporting misconduct and took the one avenue of redress that was open to him. In August 2012, he brought an arbitration case against the firm, contending retaliation and asking to recover his lost earnings. As is typical in the financial industry, his employment contract required that any dispute between him and his employer go through private arbitration, not the courts. Mr. Martin’s matter is being heard by three arbitrators associated with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a self-regulatory organization that operates the largest dispute resolution forum in the securities industry.

But Mr. Martin’s experience with arbitration, both he and his lawyer say, has raised questions of fairness in the process. The three-member panel hearing his case has barred him from testifying about certain crucial aspects of what he saw at Deutsche Bank and disallowed the introduction of documents that bolster his claims. This led his lawyer to conclude that the panel was not interested in specifics of the behavior at the heart of his accusations — and to ask a state court to step in.

“When I filed this arbitration, I expected that Finra would resolve the dispute between Deutsche Bank and me in a fair way,” Mr. Martin, 41, said in a statement provided by his lawyer. “I was surprised and disappointed when the arbitrators refused to listen to important parts of what I wanted to say and rejected or redacted my exhibits. I can’t see how a dispute can be fairly resolved if one party is not even allowed to tell their side.”

To continue reading the entirety of the NY Times article, click on this link

New York AG Puts Top BrokerDealer Dark Pools In Cross-Hairs (Again) blog update courtesy of multiple news sources.

NY AG Eric Schneiderman

NY AG Eric Schneiderman

Less than two months after N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman levied charges against Barclays that it deliberately misled investors in its dark pool, regulators are reportedly looking into operations at five more investment banks. No specific allegations have been revealed, but several firms have confirmed that either Schneiderman’s office or another agency is investigating their practices.

The latest additions to the list of firms under scrutiny by the N.Y. attorney general’s office are Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, according to The Fox Business Network, which cited people with direct knowledge of matter as sources. Neither firm has publicly acknowledged an investigation, but they also would not deny the scrutiny, according to the report.

Press officials at both firms as well as at the N.Y. attorney general’s office all declined comment.

One week ago, Credit Suisse revealed that regulators have asked the firm for information about its alternative trading system (ATS) as part of an investigation into dark pools. Credit Suisse said it was cooperating with “various governmental and regulatory authorities” regarding its ATS but would not specify which regulators were investigating, according to the Wall Street Journal. The bank further said that it is one of 30 defendants named in lawsuits related to high-frequency trading or other alleged violations filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Days earlier, UBS and Deutsche Bank disclosed that they were the subject of inquiries. UBS said that it was being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the N.Y. attorney general’s office and other regulators as part of an industry-wide investigation, according to the New York Times.

“These inquiries include an SEC investigation that began in early 2012 concerning features of UBS’s ATS, including certain order types and disclosure practices that were discontinued two years ago,” the firm said, according to the New York Times article.

At the same time, it was reported that Deutsche Bank separately disclosed it had been contacted by regulators. Deutsche Bank did not reveal which regulators had contacted the firm, but the New York Times report cited an unnamed source familiar with the matter as saying that the N.Y. attorney general’s office was investigating.  Deutsche Bank and UBS both said they were cooperating with authorities.

Bankers Open Vault for Hotel Blog

wsj provides news extract below courtesy of the Wall St. Journal

Banks are checking back into the hotel business.

J.P. Morgan Chase JPM +0.63% & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and other firms are ramping up lending for lodging acquisitions and debt refinancing to levels not seen since before the financial crisis. Lenders made $31 billion in hotel loans last year, nearly double the 2012 level, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, while all commercial-property lending rose 47%.

wsj loansCredit is flowing against a backdrop of rising room rates, limited new construction and a spike in leisure and business travel in big cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Net operating income increased by 10% for the average U.S. hotel in 2013, according to PKF Consulting USA, which predicts “double digit annual gains” through 2015.

The easy money means hotel companies and investors can use less of their own cash to make deals, potentially amplifying returns. Debt now accounts for more than 67% of a hotel purchase price, up from about 56% in 2010, says PKF. That level is just below the high of around 70% in 2005.

Some of the largest hotel transactions have relied even more heavily on debt. NorthStar Realty Finance and a partner this month borrowed about $840 million from J.P. Morgan to acquire a 47-hotel portfolio for about $1 billion.

“There’s been a sea-change during the past two months,” says Monty Bennett, chief executive officer of Ashford Hospitality Trust, AHT +0.47% a Dallas-based hotel investor. “It’s pretty close to the 2007 lending environment again.”

The full WSJ article can be accessed by clicking here.