Monthly Archives: March 2015

HSBC Offices Raided Over Money Laundering Allegations

Posted by Connie Huang.

HSBC is a bank with locations in Europe. Two branches raided on or about February 18, 2015 by Swiss authorities are located in Geneva. They raided the banks, because the banks are accused of money laundering.

Money laundering is “a financial transaction scheme that aims to conceal the identity, source, and destination of illicitly-obtained money.” The bank’s Swiss arm was aiding their clients in hiding $100 billion in Swiss accounts, as reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). This allowed let them evade taxes.

According to the article, the bank told their clients that it would not divulge to national authorities details of accounts. HSBC talked about “moves that [would] ‘ultimately allow clients to avoid paying taxes in their home countries.’” As said by the ICIJ, HSBC has served clients like Hosni Mubarak, former Egyptian President, the current ruler of Syria Bashar al-Assad, and Ben Ali, the former Tunisian President.

“HSBC Switzerland Offices Raided over Money Laundering Allegations – Feb. 18, 2015.” CNNMoney. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

Connie is an international business major at Montclair State University, Class of 2017.

Former General Counsel of South Florida Law Firm Sentenced for Fraud

Posted by Connie Huang.

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, fraud is “the crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person; a person who pretends to be what he or she is not in order to trick people; [or] a copy of something that is meant to look like the real thing in order to trick people.” Therefore, a person who pretends to be something they’re not in order to trick people and using dishonest ways to take something valuable from someone is fraud.

A former general counsel of a law firm in South Florida was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. He was sentenced to federal prison because he helped a managing partner  “swindle investors by selling them ‘income’ from faked settlements.” He will probably be testifying against other defendants.

According to the article, defendant’s attorney argued that his client “had been punished enough by losing his New York law license and his home and declaring bankruptcy.” I agree that defendant has been punished enough, because losing one’s ability to work and make money (a law license) and maintain a house is hard on his life as it is. That is a lot to lose. The defendant apologized in court to his family members, which I believe is a rightful thing to do. He has declared he has been guilty to charges relating to wire fraud.

“Former General Counsel of Notorious Rothstein Law Firm Gets 18 Months for Fraud.” ABA Journal. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.

Connie is an international business major at Montclair State University, Class of 2017.

Tesla Can Sell Directly to Consumers in NJ

It is now legal for Tesla and other manufacturers of zero-emission cars to sell directly to customers in New Jersey. Tesla’s business model includes selling its battery-driven cars from its boutique stores. One of them is located in Short Hills Mall, Short Hills, NJ.

Customers are free to learn about the vehicles through interactive displays and test drives. Tesla does not want to sell its cars through franchises because they sell mostly gas-powered vehicles. Since most of their revenue comes from gas-powered sales, franchises would not be encouraged to sell zero-emission cars.

Proposed Legislation Demanding More Transparency from the Fed

Both sides of the political isle are pressuring the Fed to be more transparent regarding its monetary policy and cease “cozying up” to the banks it oversees. There are several legislative proposals that some prior Presidents of the Fed consider to be a threat to its independence. If any one of them are passed, it would be the first major overhaul of the institution since the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby is concerned with the Fed’s portfolio, because since 2008 the Fed more than quadrupled its balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. It purchased bonds to suppress longer-term interest rates, but Shelby is at a loss to discover as to what the Fed is going to do with them.

Sen. Rand Paul, along with 29 other Republican Senators, the Majority Leader, and one Democrat, is sponsoring a bill requiring the Fed to be subject to “regular audits” of its monetary policy by the General Accounting Office (GAO). Paul reasoned it is “‘unseemly that an organization that we’ve given the power, the monopoly, of making money uses that power then to try to thwart transparency.'”

Representative Bill Huizenga of Michigan, head of the House Financial Services panel’s subcommittee on monetary policy, wants to require the Fed to use a mathematical rule when it changes interest rates. New Jersey Republican Representative Scott Garrett has introduced a bill entitled, the “Federal Reserve Transparency and Accountability Act” that “would require the central bank to perform a cost-benefit analysis of any new banking rule, submit internal audits and performance reviews to Congress and send a top official to testify before lawmakers on financial rule-making.”

There is at least some change to the selection of governors. Current law now requires at least one member of the seven-member Board of Governors to have community banking experience. It brings experience other than the traditional “academic” or “megabank” experience, as the proponent of the original bill, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, described. Individual governors on Fed’s Board of Governors are required to be confirmed by the Senate. The Board of Governors makes important decisions on interest rates and how banks are regulated. But specific expertise in banking is not a requirement for any of the positions. “Of the board’s current five members, three are economists and two are lawyers.” The addition of a governor with community banking experience, however, lends more diversity in the decision-making process.

The New York branch has been the target of Democrats, in particular Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts. She has been critical of the current president, William C. Dudley, of being too chummy with big banks. Warren wants more congressional oversight of the central bank. Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island suggests that selection of the New York Fed president should be confirmed by the Senate and has proposed a bill requiring it. Currently, the bank’s directors select the twelve district bank presidents who are then sent on for approval by the Fed board located in Washington.

A lot of criticism surrounds the amount of power the president of the New York branch has over policy set by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The president of the New York bank is the only president that does not have to rotate on the committee. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher called for the “stripping” of the New York president’s permanent role on the FOMC, because the New York branch wields too much power and influence. The Independent Community Bankers of America, a Washington lobby consisting of 6,500 members, agree.

Both Democrats and Republicans want a more accountable Fed, but there are detractors who believe that legislation would only have the effect of politicizing the central bank. In one poll, 24% of Americans polled believe that politics should stay out of the Fed.