Blog by Bill Singer WEEK IN REVIEW

September 19, 2015

HSBC Stares Into The Eye Of The Tiger And Blinks

Some folks turn the other cheek and simply move on. Other folks fight back, counter-punch, and seek to teach those who jerk them around a lesson. Not that it's any big surprise to readers of the Blog but I tend to fall in that second camp. No . . . every slight doesn't merit retribution and, sure, sometimes it does pay to walk away and get over it. On the other hand, after three decades of lawyering on Wall Street, I am still amazed at how much crap many registered representatives put up with and how few men and women are willing to lace up the gloves and step into the ring. 

It's the eye of the tiger. It's the thrill of the fight. Those lyrics from "Eye of the Tiger" by the band Survivor pretty much sum up the point of today's blog. In the left corner, we have the odds-on favorite HSBC. In the right corner, we have a former HSBC employee, who claims to have been wrongfully fired and defamed. The bell has rung and the fighters come out to the center of the ring. READ

Stockbroker Pleads To Misdemeanor But Fails To Disclose Felony Charge

You got caught and were charged with a felony. As a registered representative on Wall Street, if you're convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, it could mark the end of your career. Troubled by losing your livelihood, you hire a lawyer. Thankfully, after some gut-wrenching times, your lawyer gives you the good news that he cut a plea bargain and you're going to be able to plead to a misdemeanor that doesn't expose you to statutory disqualification. You dodged a mortar shell. Or did you?

You know how distracted and worried you were for all the months leading up to that wonderful settlement? Did you ever bother to notify your firm that you had been charged with a felony? Did you ever bother to update your Form U4? Guess what: Your troubles aren't over! READ

FINRA Fines UBS Over Bloomberg Messages

Lots of Wall Street firms rely upon Bloomberg for data and messaging. When that service provider alters its policies, such changes may have compliance and regulatory impact. As demonstrated in a recent FINRA settlement with UBS, the failure to recognize the change in a daily download protocol could go unnoticed for years with dramatic consequences. On the other hand, this settlement also raises questions about where the industry's self-regulatory organization was while this non-compliance by one of its larger members persisted year after year. READ

Insider Trading Case Collapses Over Personal Benefit Proof

As I have long opined, I am no fan of insider trading cases -- but, as I have also consistently noted, I accept the fact that insider trading is a pernicious evil that saps the confidence of investors and undermines the credibility of the markets.  How do I reconcile those positions? Frankly, not with ease but with resignation. I simply do not believe that federal prosecutors and Wall Street regulators will ever achieve meaningful success in pre-empting insider trading, and I see no proof that the ongoing criminal prosecutions and enforcement actions serve as deterrents. The limited manpower and financial resources of Wall Street's watchdogs should be better utilized in pursuing antifraud cases in which more vulnerable investors are typically victimized. In the end, it's about triage and allocating what you got towards helping those most in need. Consider the recent dismissal by an SEC ALJ of a high-profile insider trading case. READ


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Folded Note Found On Test Center Floor

You've studied for weeks but you still bring notes to the school or exam center, and you read those notes in the hallway -- right up until the announcement that the exam will start shortly and all papers, cards, laptops, and tablets must be put away.  Sadly, there are those who cheat and don't follow the rules. Of course, there are always those who are so overwhelmed by the testing process that they simply forget about a folded piece of paper in their jacket pocket or that they had placed some notes on their cellphone. If the rules are no notes inside the testing facility, there isn't much nuance with that "no." Whether you're caught with notes because you forgot about them or because you were cheating may make a big difference when it comes to the punishment. On the other hand, when that distinction isn't spelled out in a regulatory settlement, it sort of raises questions as to whether the fines and suspension could have been much worse or were simply fair as imposed. READ