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January 23, 2023

Bloomberg Finance L.P. has been ordered to pay $5 million to settle charges of making misleading disclosures related to BVAL, a paid subscription service that provides daily price valuations for fixed-income securities.  According to the order, Bloomberg failed to disclose that its valuations for certain fixed-income securities did not adhere to previously disclosed methodologies.  Financial service entities that relied on such valuations, including mutual funds, were impacted by the misleading disclosures.  SEC

December 20, 2022

Futures commission merchant CHS Hedging LLC will pay civil penalty of $6.5 million to resolve claims that it failed to implement an adequate AML program and failed to implement risk-based limits concerning trading in an account controlled by one of its customers that owned and controlled a ranching company and other related businesses.  The customer engaged in speculative trading that was inconsistent with its financial resources and hedging needs, and, over the course of four years, made net margin payments of more than $147 million to CHS Hedging.  The government alleged that the company did not adequately investigate the source of the customer’s funds or report the transactions as suspicious.  CFTC

December 20, 2022

Wells Fargo will pay a $1.7 billion penalty, and more than $2 billion in consumer restitution, following findings by the CFPB that the bank engaged in unlawful conduct including the imposition of improper fees and interest charges on auto and mortgage loans, misapplication of payments on such loans, and the imposition of unlawful surprise overdraft fees.  Wells Fargo’s failures in its servicing of auto loans resulted in the wrongful repossession of borrowers’ vehicles, and its improper denial of mortgage modifications led to some customers losing their homes to wrongful foreclosures.  According to the CFPB, the bank knew about problems in its account management and servicing for years before it took steps to correct them.  CFPB

December 13, 2022

Danske Bank will pay over $2 billion to resolve charges from the SEC and DOJ arising from failures in its anti-money laundering compliance program at an Estonian bank it acquired and began operating as a branch in 2007, and from its failure to disclose the risks posed by the program’s significant deficiencies.  Danske Bank had received information from an internal whistleblower, conducted internal audits, and received information from regulators, from which it knew that the Estonian branch served high-risk customers, including many Russians, who were engaged in billions of dollars in suspicious and potentially criminal transactions; that its internal policies were inadequate; and, that its AML and KYC procedures were not being followed.  Despite this knowledge, the bank made materially misleading statements and omissions that it complied with its AML obligations and that it had effectively managed its AML risks.  These statements mislead investors and U.S. banks and allowed its high-risk customers to gain unlawful access to the U.S. financial system.  Danske agreed to pay an SEC penalty of $413 million and, as part of a criminal plea to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, will forfeit over $2 billion, with $850 million of that amount being credited from separate criminal or civil resolutions with foreign and domestic authorities, including the SEC.  DOJ, SEC, SDNY

November 21, 2022

Todd and Julie Chrisley, married television personalities and newly-convicted fraudsters, will spend 12 and 7 years in federal prison, respectively, for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit tax evasion. The Chrisleys defrauded Atlanta-area community banks to obtain more than $36 million in personal loans by submitting false banking and personal financial statements. After funding their lavish, undeserved lifestyle with the multi-million-dollar loans, Todd Chrisley filed bankruptcy, walking away from over $20 million in loans. Both before and during the trial, the Chrisleys attempted to obstruct justice, including by submitting a fraudulent document in response to a grand jury subpoena. In addition to serving time in prison, the Chrisleys will be required to pay restitution in an amount to be determined later. USAO NDGA

October 21, 2022

Mattel Inc. has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle charges of making material misstatements in its third and fourth quarter 2017 financial statements.  The toy manufacturer was found to have understated its third quarter tax valuation allowance by $109 million and overstated its fourth quarter tax expense by the same amount, resulting in a net loss and net loss per share that was understated by 15% and overstated by 63% respectively.  In connection with this action, the SEC launched an investigation into a former audit partner at Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP, Joshua Abrahams, for the audit failure.  SEC

September 29, 2022

The Chinese affiliate of accounting firm Deloitte, known as Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Certified Public Accountants LLP, has agreed to pay a $20 million penalty and submit to extensive remedial measures for its failures to comply with fundamental U.S. auditing requirements in audits of companies listed on U.S. exchanges.  According to multiple SEC audits spanning multiple years, instead of properly reviewing client financial statements and internal controls, Deloitte-China had a practice of asking clients to select their own samples for testing and prepare their own audit documentation.  SEC

September 29, 2022

Barclays PLC and Barclays Bank PLC has agreed to pay $361 million following charges that they offered and sold an unprecedented $17.7 million in unregistered securities without setting up internal controls to track those transactions in real time.  The firms eventually self-reported to regulators and commenced a rescission offer.  SEC

September 28, 2022

Alabama-based Regions Bank, which operates thousands of branches and ATMs across 16 states, has been ordered to pay $50 million to the CFPB’s victims relief fund and refund at least $141 million to customers, after the CFPB found it charged surprise overdraft fees to customers told they had sufficient funds.  Leadership was also found to have known about the illegal practice long before it ended in 2021, but chose to wait until they could make up the revenue, which made up 17.7% of their non-interest income, in other ways.  CFPB

September 27, 2022

Fifteen broker-dealers and one affiliated investment advisor has been ordered to pay combined penalties of more than $1.1 billion following SEC charges of violating the recordkeeping provision of securities laws.  Barclays, Bank of America (including Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith), Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and UBS each paid $125 million, while Jefferies and Nomura each paid $50 million and Cantor Fitzgerald paid $10 million, to settle charges of failing to prevent or preserve communications their employees made via messaging apps on their personal devices.  SEC
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