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Deutsche Bank Ensnared by Billion-Dollar Malaysian Fund Scandal

A multi-billion-dollar fraud scandal perpetrated by an investment arm of the Malaysian government appears to have ensnared another major global financial institution — Deutsche Bank  (DBGet Report) — which already is reeling from massive restructuring efforts.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the Justice Department is investigating whether the German lender violated foreign corruption or anti-money-laundering laws in its work for the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund, which included helping the fund raise $1.2 billion in 2014 as concerns about the fund’s management and financials had begun to circulate.

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The investigation comes amid a massive overhaul of the Munich-based bank announced over the weekend, which includes layoffs in the thousands and the creation of a separate entity for bad loans, debt and other problem investments and holdings that have plagued the bank since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Investigators reportedly have been assisted by former Goldman Sachs executive, Tim Leissner, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. Prosecutors have been investigating similar issues at Goldman, where Leissner, a former managing director, pleaded guilty last year to helping re-direct billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund.

A state economic-development fund, 1MDB turned into a major global scandal after billions of dollars were drained from it between 2009 and 2014, leading to multiple government investigations and the downfall of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The Department of Justice has said the stolen money totals at least $4.5 billion and that it was used to pay bribes to government officials, pad a slush fund controlled by the former prime minister and purchase hundreds of millions of dollars in luxury goods and real estate.

Shares of Deutsche Bank were down 0.54% at $7.36 in early trading in New York on Thursday.

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Source: Deutsche Bank Ensnared by Billion-Dollar Malaysian Fund Scandal – Report

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SoftBank Launches New $108 Billion Vision Fund To Invest in AI

SoftBank stunned the venture capital world with its launch of the $100 billion Vision Fund in 2017 and its wide-ranging and aggressive investments. Now billionaire Masayoshi Son has announced an even larger fund with $108 billion to invest in artificial intelligence companies.

Announced on Thursday, the “SoftBank Vision Fund 2” will be the biggest tech fund in the world if it comes to fruition. “The objective of the Fund is to facilitate the continued acceleration of the AI revolution through investment in market-leading, tech-enabled growth companies,” SoftBank Group wrote in a filing with the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

SoftBank has upped its own stake in the new fund to $38 billion from the $25 billion in the original fund and has tapped leading tech companies like Apple, Microsoft and Foxconn, along with Japanese investment investment banks and Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund.

One noticeable omission from the second fund is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which pumped $45 billion into the first Vision Fund. SoftBank has faced criticism over its ties with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman following the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

However, SoftBank said discussions are ongoing with additional participants, so it’s possible Saudi Arabia will still participate in the second fund, while the total money raised may top $108 billion.

SoftBank used the first fund to make aggressive billion dollar investments into an eclectic range of technology companies around the world leading to some questioning the rational of the legendary investor and SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son. Uber, DoorDash, and WeWork have all been backed by the fund, European startups Improbable in the U.K. and travel booking website GetYourGuide in Germany.

The SoftBank Vision Fund, run out of an office in London’s exclusive Mayfair neighbourhood, is led by Son and Rajeev Misra, a banker who previously worked at UBS, Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch.

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I’m a Staff Writer covering tech in Europe. Previously, I was a News Editor for Business Insider Australia, and prior to that I was a Senior Technology Reporter for Business Insider UK. My writing has also appeared in The Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Wired, The Independent, and elsewhere. I have also appeared on the BBC, Sky News, Al Jazeera, Channel 5, Reuters TV, and spoken on Russia Today and Shares Radio. In 2015, I was shortlisted for Technology Journalist of the Year by the UK Tech Awards and in 2016 I was nominated as one of the 30 young journalists to watch by MHP Communications.

Source: SoftBank Launches New $108 Billion Vision Fund To Invest in AI

U.S. Bank Regulatory Easing Is Negative For Investors And Taxpayers

Storm clouds behind the exterior of the Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC

Storm clouds behind the exterior of the Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC

In a disappointing decision, the Federal Reserve Board announced yesterday that effective this year, it will limit its use of the “qualitative objection” in Dodd-Frank’s Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR). Under Dodd-Frank’s Title I, banks that are designated as systemically important are required banks to design a model using stress scenarios from the Federal Reserve. In order to pass the stress test, banks need to demonstrate that they would be able to meet Basel III capital and leverage requirements even in a period of stress.  It is in the qualitative portion of CCAR, that the Federal Reserve can identify and communicate to the market if a bank is having problems with its internal controls, model risk management, information technology, risk data aggregation, and whether a bank has the ability to identify, measure, control, and monitor credit, market, liquidity and operational risks even during periods of stress.  Easing this requirement, in combination with all the changes to Dodd-Frank that have been taking place since last year, is dangerous to investors, not to mention taxpayers, especially so late in the credit cycle.

Parts of the test that each firm is subject to this year in addition to the hypothetical scenario.

Parts of the test that each firm is subject to this year in addition to the hypothetical scenario.

*All firms subject to the qualitative objection, except TD Group, will have their fourth year in the 2020 cycle. TD Group’s fourth year will be the 2019 cycle.

According to the Federal Reserve’s press release “The changes eliminate the qualitative objection for most firms due to the improvements in capital planning made by the largest firms.”  Yes, there have been improvements in capital planning precisely, because there were consequences to banks which failed the qualitative portion of CCAR. Banks were prohibited from making capital distributions until they could rectify the problems the Federal Reserve found in the CCAR exercise.  This decision essentially defangs the CCAR qualitative review of banks’ capital planning process.

Nomi Prins

Nomi Prins

Dean Zatkowsky

“It is absolutely reckless of the Fed to relinquish its regulatory authority in such a manner, rather than retain the option of qualitative oversight, which has turned up red flags in the past,” said Nomi Prins former international investment banker. “We are after all, talking about what the banks deem a reporting burden versus necessary oversight that could detect signs of a coming credit or other form of banking related crisis from a capital or internal risk management perspective. Why take that risk on behalf of the rest of our country or the world?”

In writing about the Federal Reserve’s decision, the Wall Street Journal wrote that “Regulators dialed back a practice of publicly shaming the nation’s biggest banks through “stress test” exams, taking one of the biggest steps yet to ease scrutiny put in place after the 2008 crisis.” It is not public shaming. It is called regulators doing their job, that is, providing transparency to markets about what challenges banks may be having. Without transparency, the bank share and bond investors cannot discipline banks.

Just last month, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it would be “providing relief to less-complex firms from stress testing requirements and CCAR by effectively moving the firms to an extended stress test cycle for this year. The relief applies to firms generally with total consolidated assets between $100 billion and $250 billion.”

Christopher Wolfe

Christopher Wolfe

Fitch Ratings

Investors in bank bonds, especially, should be concerned about recent easing of bank regulations. Immediately after the Federal Reserve decision was announced yesterday, Christopher Wolfe, Head of North American Banks and Managing Director at Fitch Ratings stated that “Taken together, these regulatory announcements raising the bar for systemic risk designation and relaxed standard for qualitative objection on the CCAR stress test reinforce our view that the regulatory environment is easing, which is a negative for bank creditors.”  Fitch Rating analysts have written several reports about the easing bank regulatory environment being credit negative for investors in bank bonds and to  counterparties of banks in a wide array of financial transactions.

Dennis Kelleher

Dennis Kelleher

Better Markets

Also, a month ago, the Federal Reserve announced that it will give more information to banks about how it uses banks’ data in its model to determine whether banks are adequately capitalized in a period of stress.  In commenting on the Federal Recent decisions, Better Markets President and CEO Dennis Kelleher stated that “Stress tests and their fulsome disclosure have been one of the key mechanisms used to restore trust in those banks and regulators.  By providing more transparency to the banks in response to their complaints while reducing the transparency to the public risks snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the Fed’s stress test regime.”

Gregg Gelzinis

Gregg Gelzinis

Center for American Progress

Gregg Gelznis, Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress also expressed his concern about the Federal Reserve’s recent changes to the CCAR stress tests.  “While Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell and Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles have spoken at length about the need for increased stress testing transparency, this transparency only cuts in one direction.” He elaborated that the Federal Reserve’s decision “benefits Wall Street at the expense of the public. The Fed has advanced rules that would provide banks with more information on the stress testing scenarios and models. At the same time, they have now made the stress testing regime less transparent for the public by removing the qualitative objection—instead evaluating capital planning controls and risk management privately in the supervisory process.”

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I have been dedicated to providing clients high quality financial consulting, research, and training services on Basel III, risk management, risk-based supervision

Source: U.S. Bank Regulatory Easing Is Negative For Investors And Taxpayers

Bank Of England Governor Might Open Opportunity For Ripple Tech, Says That Payments Across Borders Should Be Indistinguishable From Those Across The Street

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has vowed to transform the central bank in preparation for the upcoming “fourth industrial revolution.”

Speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, Carney said that he would focus on encouraging innovation among fintech startup, and making climate change and Artificial Intelligence (AI) priorities.

Carney stressed on the emerging digital economy, which many developing nations are preparing for by embracing blockchain technology and decentralized systems.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has vowed to transform the central bank in preparation for the upcoming “fourth industrial revolution.”

Speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, Carney said that he would focus on encouraging innovation among fintech startup, and making climate change and Artificial Intelligence (AI) priorities.

Carney stressed on the emerging digital economy, which many developing nations are preparing for by embracing blockchain technology and decentralized systems.

The second great wave of globalisation is cresting. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is just beginning. And a new economy is emerging. That new economy requires a new finance. A new finance to serve the digital economy, a new finance to support the major transitions underway across the globe, and a new finance to increase the financial sector’s resilience.

Carney also spoke of the changing nature of the way we exchange value,

Consumers and businesses increasingly expect transactions to be settled in real time, checkout to become an historical anomaly, and payments across borders to be indistinguishable from those across the street.

Though Ripple is not mentioned by name, the kind of solutions that Ripple offers is a partial answer for the kind of upgrade that Carney speaks of. The cross-border solutions that Ripple provides has been warmly welcomed by banks across the world.

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum released a report that showed over 40 central banks across the world were conducting research and/or implementing blockchain solutions. Certainly there is a lot to be gained by established entities adopting the technology, IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, has also said that “cryptocurrencies clearly shake the world.”

Abhimanyu Krishnan
About Abhimanyu Krishnan

Abhimanyu is an engineer on paper but a writer by living. To him, the most celebratory aspect of blockchain technology is its democratic nature. While he’s hodling, he can be found reading a good book or making the local dogs howl with the sound of his guitar playing.

Source: Bank Of England Governor Might Open Opportunity For Ripple Tech, Says That Payments Across Borders Should Be Indistinguishable From Those Across The Street

Major Central Bank Institution BIS: Bitcoin Must Depart From Proof-of-Work

Bitcoin’s (BTC) problems are only solvable by departing from a proof-of-work (PoW) system, according to research published by the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) on Jan. 21. According to the paper, when in the future Bitcoin’s block rewards fall to zero — given that only a limited number of new Bitcoin will ever be created — transaction fees alone will not be able to sustain mining expenses. The argument implies that the Bitcoin network would become so slow that it would be virtually unusable, stating…….

Source: Major Central Bank Institution BIS: Bitcoin Must Depart From Proof-of-Work

How Islamic Finance Could Save the Planet

With mystic peaks, coral reefs, jungles and over 4,000 hours of annual sunlight, Malaysia’s Sabah state is an ideal candidate for clean energy initiatives. But what makes its 50-megawatt solar project, launched in April 2018, special isn’t just its potential to provide electricity to this northern Borneo region. The project is the outcome of funds raised from the world’s first Islamic green bond, with a value of $60 million, unveiled by Malaysia’s Securities Commission in July 2017………..

Source: How Islamic Finance Could Save the Planet

Reserves Bank of India shelves central bank digital currency plans – Report – TokenPost

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reportedly shelved its plans to launch its own digital currency, according to The Hindu Business Line.The RBI had revealed its plans about central bank digital currency (RBI) in…

Source: Reserves Bank of India shelves central bank digital currency plans – Report – TokenPost

The National Bank of Kuwait Becomes Member of RippleNet

https://www.pivot.one/share/post/5c287bcaad59e77f8754a970?uid=5bd49f297d5fe7538e6111b6&invite_code=JTOJYV

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