Theresa May asked for the European Union to consider a 2 years delay in Britain’s exit from the European Union in a speech delivered in Florence. Rating agency Moody’s downgraded the UK’s ratings a notch to Aa2 on the basis that the challenges of Brexit increased risks to policy making and finances. Angela Merkel’s party was the overall winner of the German election but votes for the far right AFD party also surged, putting them in third place. Further sanctions were imposed on North Korea after its increased missile launches, resulting in a war of words with the United States and threats to Japan. In France President Macron used his executive authority to make changes to labour laws but was met with protests and demonstrations led by trade unions. Below we set out the main stories in the news for finance and regulation.
The Central Bank issued a prohibition notice against Anne Butterly, a former manager of the Rush Credit Union, prohibiting her from carrying out any controlled function in any regulated financial services provider for an indefinite period. The move came after an investigation into the failed credit union identified unauthorised transactions on customer accounts, which contributed to its being placed in liquidation in 2016.
The Minister for Finance published a Review of Ireland’s Corporation Tax Code. The review was written by an independent expert and covers tax transparency, avoiding preferential treatment, implementing international commitments, delivering tax certainty, maintaining competitiveness and the 12.5% corporation tax rate. It concluded that the increase in Ireland’s corporation tax receipts could be expected to be sustainable up to 2020 and acknowledged that Ireland has reached the highest standards of tax transparency.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission published its annual report for 2016. The Data Protection Commissioner published a consultation on Topics of Transparency and International Data Transfers under the General Data Protection Regulation. Responses were requested for 13th October 2017 and will be used as part of the Irish participation in the third ‘Fablab’ in Brussels on 18th October to be attended by members of the EU Article 29 Working Party. The Central Bank issued updated Guidance on Fitness and Probity for Credit Unions and an online Individual Questionnaire (IQ) Template and also issued Consultation Paper 113 on Potential Amendments to Fitness and Probity Regime for Credit Unions.
The European Banking Authority published a discussion paper on significant risk transfer in securitisation. The paper seeks views on how to further harmonise the regulation and supervision of the risk transfer through securitisation further to the newly agreed European securitisation legislation. The consultation runs until 19 December 2017.
The European Central Bank is to develop a euro unsecured overnight interest rate from data already available to the Eurosystem. The new rate is to complement existing benchmark rates produced by the private sector and serve as a backstop reference rate, and will be based on transactions in euro that are reported by banks in accordance with the ECB’s money market statistical reporting. The features of the rate are to be communicated to market participants in 2018, together with a consultation. It is intended to launch the new rate from 2020.
The European Commission moved to prevent UK fund managers establishing European entities after Brexit which then delegate large amounts of business to British subsidiaries. The European Securities and Markets Authority is to be empowered to prevent business structures which evade European regulation through an excessive use of outsourcing.
Insurance Europe published a position paper on grandfathering of existing financial contracts after Brexit. The paper called for the protection of the rights of European citizens such as insurance, pensions, travel insurance and director’s liability insurance. The trade body called for the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU to resolve the issue and address the risk that Brexit would damage the current level of cover enjoyed by insurance customers.
The Advertising Standards Authority questioned the growing liberalisation of the gambling industry amid concerns that betting adverts are fuelling a surge in problem gamblers in the UK. The government is due to publish a review of the industry later in the year, which will address the issue of fixed-odds betting terminals. The incoming head of the authority David Currie notes that the ASA alone could not control the problem.
The pending introduction of requirements for UK banks to check that their customers are not illegal immigrants raised fears that errors would be made. The requirements introduced under 2016 immigration legislation require banks to send details of persons deemed to be illegal to the Home Office. The Home Office then has further powers to apply to court for a freeze on that account. Critics of the requirements noted that banks and the Home Office had a long history of errors which could result in loss of access to money by legitimate customers.
The Financial Conduct Authority published an Occasional Paper under the Ageing Population Project which explores how older people use financial services and products. It found that there are risks that their financial services needs were not being fully met, resulting in exclusion, poor customer outcomes and potential harm. Older consumers were not necessarily vulnerable, but were more likely than other groups to experience vulnerability at some point, particularly when over 75.
The FCA issued a warning about Initial Coin Offerings, which raise funds from the public using virtual or crypto currencies. The regulator labelled the offerings as very high risk, speculative investments, noting that most are not regulated by the FCA. Many offerings are for projects in the early stages of development and some are also fraudulent, with offering documentation falling short of a full prospectus.
The Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong dropped planned reforms to stock exchange listings. The proposed reforms published last year aimed to improve oversight of markets in order to compete with New York and London. They would have included downgrading the role of the industry led Listing Committee. The regulator is instead to focus on front line enforcement which will include deeper scrutiny and blocking of some applications for listing.
The Securities and Exchange Commission was criticised for failing to reveal a cyberattack on its computer systems whilst at the same time as urging companies to promptly disclose attacks. The regulator’s online filing system Edgar was attacked and inside information may have been used by criminals to trade on stock markets. The regulator only disclosed the attack some eight months after it occurred. Edgar is used by 5,700 companies to file financial statements.