Friday, November 28, 2014

Man Pleads Guilty for Selling "StealthGenie" Spyware App and Ordered to Pay $500,000 Fine

Justice logoA Danish citizen on Tuesday plead guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia and was ordered to pay a fine of $500,000 for advertising and selling StealthGenie, a spyware application (app) that could remotely monitor calls, texts, videos and other communications on mobile phones without detection.  This marks the first-ever criminal conviction concerning the advertisement and sale of a mobile device spyware app.  

“Spyware is an electronic eavesdropping tool that secretly and illegally invades individual privacy,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Make no mistake: selling spyware is a federal crime, and the Criminal Division will make a federal case out if it.  Today’s guilty plea by a creator of the StealthGenie spyware is another demonstration of our commitment to prosecuting those who would invade personal privacy.”

“The defendant advertised and sold a spyware app that could be secretly installed on smart phones without the knowledge of the phones owner,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “This spyware app allowed individuals to intercept phone calls, electronic mail, text messages, voicemails and photographs of others.  The product allowed for the wholesale invasion of privacy by other individuals, and this office in coordination with our law enforcement partners will prosecute not just users of apps like this, but the makers and marketers of such tools as well.”

“Mr. Akbar is the first-ever person to admit criminal activity in advertising and selling spyware that invades an unwitting victim’s confidential communications,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.  “This illegal spyware provides individuals with an option to track a person’s every move without their knowledge.  As technology evolves, the FBI will continue to evolve to protect consumers from those who sell illegal spyware.”

According to the statement of facts accompanying the plea agreement in the case, Hammad Akbar, 31, is the chief executive officer of InvoCode Pvt. Limited and Cubitium Limited, the companies that advertised and sold StealthGenie online.  StealthGenie could be installed on a variety of different brands of mobile phones, including Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, and Blackberry Limited’s Blackberry.  Once installed, it could intercept all conversations and text messages sent using the phone.  The app was undetectable by most users and was advertised as being untraceable. 

Akbar was arrested on Sept. 27, 2014, in Los Angeles and pleaded guilty today to sale of an interception device and advertisement of a known interception device.  After accepting the guilty plea, the court immediately sentenced Akbar to time served and ordered him to pay a $500,000 fine.  He was also ordered to forfeit the source code for StealthGenie to the government.

On Sept. 26, 2014, the court issued a temporary restraining order authorizing the FBI to temporarily disable the website hosting StealthGenie, which was hosted from a data center in Ashburn, Virginia.  The court later converted the order into a temporary injunction, and the website remains offline.

According to Akbar’s admissions, StealthGenie had numerous functions that permitted it to intercept both outgoing and incoming telephone calls, electronic mail, text messages, voicemail, and photographs from the smartphone on which it was installed.  The app could also turn on the phone’s microphone when it was not in use and record sounds and conversations that occurred near the phone.  All of these functions could be enabled without the knowledge of the user of the phone.

In order to install the app, the purchaser needed at least temporary possession of the target phone.  During the installation process on an Android smartphone, for example, the person installing the app was required to grant a series of permissions that allowed the app to access privileged information on the device.  Once the app was activated, it was started as a “background” (i.e., hidden) service and set up to launch automatically when the phone was powered on.  The only time that the app interacted with the screen was during activation, and the icon for the app was removed from the phone’s menu.  Akbar admitted that because of these characteristics, a typical smartphone user would not know that StealthGenie had been installed on his or her smartphone.   

Akbar also admitted to distributing an advertisement for StealthGenie through his website on Nov. 5, 2011, and to selling the app to an undercover agent of the FBI on Dec. 14, 2012. 

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney William A. Hall Jr. of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jay V. Prabhu and Alexander Nguyen of the Eastern District of Virginia.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has published an advisory for consumers related to the app located at:http://www.ic3.gov/media/2014/140930.aspx.    

November 28, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

FORMER BANK PRESIDENT SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR BANK FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING

Sigtarp_logoJames A. Ladio, age 58, of Wilmington, Del., was setenced to two years in federal prison for his role in a loan scheme involving TARP recipient Wilmington Trust Corporation.

Ladio, former president and chief executive officer of MidCoast Community Bank, pleaded guilty on December 17, 2013, to two counts of bank fraud and to two counts of money laundering. The charges related to a nominee loan scheme in which Ladio recruited two former MidCoast customers to obtain loans, the proceeds of which the customers loaned back to Ladio.

According to facts revealed during the sentencing hearing, Ladio had been involved in a decade-long “loan-swap” arrangement with former Wilmington Trust market manager Brian Bailey, in which the two men provided more than 20 loans to each other totaling more than $1.5 million. In June 2010, Wilmington Trust called Ladio’s loans and required him to enter into a Global Restructuring Agreement.  Ladio engaged in the nominee loan scheme in substantial part to make interest and principal payments under the agreement.

“Ladio, former president and chief executive officer of MidCoast Community Bank and a leader in the Delaware banking community, was sentenced to spend the next two years in federal prison for bank fraud against three banks, including TARP bank Wilmington Trust Corporation,” said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP). “For more than a decade involving more than 20 transactions, Ladio lined his pockets by fraudulently securing Wilmington Trust loans through former Wilmington Trust officer Brian Bailey in exchange for Ladio making sweetheart loans to Bailey. Ladio used the loans to pay off personal debt.

November 27, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FinCEN Penalizes Florida Credit Union for Failures in Managing High-Risk International Financial Activity

FINCENThe Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) yesterday assessed a $300,000 civil money penalty against North Dade Community Development Federal Credit Union in Miami Gardens, Florida for significant Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) violations. North Dade’s anti-money laundering (AML) failures exposed the United States financial system to significant opportunities for money laundering and terrorist financing from known high-risk jurisdictions.

North Dade, a small credit union with $4 million in assets and only five employees, contracted with a third-party vendor and money services business (MSB) to provide services and sub-accounts to 56 MSBs located in high-risk jurisdictions far outside its field of membership, including locations in Central America, the Middle East, and Mexico. The revenue generated from these accounts constituted 90% of North Dade’s annual revenue. In 2013 alone, the total transaction volume through North Dade by MSBs included $1.01 billion in outgoing wires and $984 million in remotely captured deposits.

“When a small institution opens its doors to the world, takes on greater risks than it can manage, and puts profits before AML controls, bad actors are bound to take advantage,” said FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery. “This case raises pretty obvious questions that no one seems to have asked. Why would MSBs located all over the world choose a small Florida credit union to conduct close to $2 billion in transactions? Credit unions pride themselves on close and low- risk relationships with known neighborhood customers. However, North Dade welcomed customers far beyond its field of membership, without adequate policies and procedures to ensure AML compliance.”

From 2009 through 2014, North Dade had significant deficiencies in all aspects of its AML program, including its internal controls, independent testing, training, and failure to designate an appropriate BSA compliance officer. North Dade also had a systemic failure in meeting its 314(a) obligations. North Dade did not provide any meaningful risk assessment for its size and type of business and blindly relied on a third-party vendor to conduct due diligence for all 56 MSBs, which held sub-accounts at North Dade. Without itself knowing or understanding its customers or risks, North Dade was unable to adequately monitor, detect, or report significant suspicious transactions and other activities taking place through the credit union, including those related to money laundering and drug trafficking. When the credit union did file suspicious activity reports, the reports were often late and insufficient.

November 26, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

OECD releases 2013 mutual agreement procedure statistics

As part of the OECD’s work to improve the timeliness of processing and completing mutual OECDagreement procedure (MAP) cases under tax treaties and to enhance the transparency of the MAP process, the OECD makes available to the public, via its website, annual statistics on the MAP caseloads of all its member countries and of Partner economies that agree to provide such statistics. MAP statistics are now available for the 2013 reporting period.

Mutual Agreement Procedure Statistics for 2013

The MAP reporting framework and the definitions of terms used in reporting, as well as the other results of the proposals in the Committee on Fiscal Affairs' (CFA) 2004 report on improving the resolution of cross-border tax disputes (“Improving the Process for Resolving International Tax Disputes”), are described in detail in the CFA’s 2007 report “Improving the Resolution of Tax Treaty Disputes”.

The MAP statistics now made available correspond to the 2013 reporting period (MAP statistics were provided earlier for reporting periods 2006 through 2012). Considered in the aggregate, MAP inventories in OECD member countries at the end of these reporting periods show a continuous increase from 2006 to 2013, with a slight decrease in 2010. For those countries that reported them, the average cycle times for cases completed, closed or withdrawn decreased in 2013 (23.57 months) as compared to 2012 (25.46 months). The separation of reported MAP cases into cases with other OECD member countries and cases with Partner economies continues to show, in general, that more than 90% of OECD member countries’ MAP inventories are cases with other OECD member countries.

The OECD intends to continue to collect and make available MAP statistics from later periods as such information becomes available, which will provide useful information on longer-term trends in MAP caseloads. The collection of this data will inform the work the OECD is doing to improve dispute resolution processes such as the Multilateral Strategic Plan on Mutual Agreement Procedures recently launched by the Forum on Tax Administration and Action 14 of the BEPS Action Plan, which aims to make dispute resolution mechanisms more effective.

November 25, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Portugal's former PM José Sócrates in Jail over Tax Evasion, Money Laundering, & Corruption

The Wall Street Journal reports that Portugal's Prime Minister from 2005 to 2011, and former Minister of the Environment was held in custody over an investogation into his potential tax evasion, money laundering, and corruption. 

The prosecutor general’s office said it began the investigation after a Portuguese bank reported suspicious banking operations and money transfers. 

Three other people were also held for questioning in connection with the probe. Mr. Socrates’ driver, João Perna, and a friend of Mr. Socrates, businessman Carlos Santos Silva, were ordered to remain in temporary custody. A third person, attorney Gonçalo Trindade Ferreira, was released but forbidden to leave the country.

He said he took a loan to live and study in Paris in 2011, when he quit as prime minister following his government’s request for an international bailout amid soaring public debt.

Last week, Interior Minister Miguel Macedo resigned following the detentions of several senior government officials in an investigation into money laundering and influence-peddling in the awarding of so-called “golden visas.” The program gives residency rights to non-European Union citizens who buy property worth €500,000 ($621,000) or more and keep it for at least five years.

November 25, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

First Student Speaker on a Panel for the ABA North American Forum

Ashley Dymond, a 3L from UC Hastings College of the Law, won the 2014 Rona R Mears Just woke up..
Scholarship and Writing Competition for a data privacy argument concerning the NSA and the collection of metadata on US Citizens.  

During the 2014 ABA North American Forum data privacy panel, Ms. Dymond spoke about recent case law concerning social media companies and best practices for drafting Terms of Use consumer contracts and data privacy disclosures. 

Cases discussed: In Re Zappos.com, Inc.; Rodriguez v Instagram; Google, Inc. in the Matter of (2011); and In the matter of Facebook, Inc. (2011)

Panel Chair & Moderator:
Kenneth N. Rashbaum, Barton LLP, New York, NY, USA

Speakers:
Susan Burns, Susan Burns LLC, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Demetrios Eleftheriou, EMC Corporation, Hopkinton, MA, USA
Ashley Dymond, Hastings School of Law, San Francisco, CA, USA
Michael Whitt Q.C.., Bennett Jones LLP, Calgary, AB, Canada

Privacy Clean-up in Aisle Six – Protecting Consumer Information in the Retail Sector

From credit card information to buying habits and loyalty programs, North American retailers have become a repository of vast and valuable stores of data and personal information. Recently, the vulnerability of these retailers' IT systems has been put into question, as hackers have managed to unlawfully abscond with scores of customers' personal data. This panel will help you advise clients as to how to avoid such breaches of privacy, and how to deal with the legal, political, and public relations fallout in the case of a breach.

November 25, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Credit Suisse Sentenced for Conspiracy to Help U.S. Taxpayers Hide Offshore Accounts - Pays $2.8 Billion

Pays a total of $2.6 Billion to DOJ, IRS, SEC, NYDS, and Fed Reserve

Irs_logoCredit Suisse AG was sentenced today for conspiracy to aid and assist U.S. taxpayers in filing false income tax returns and other documents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to conspiracy on May 19.  The sentencing of the Swiss corporation is the result of a years-long investigation by U.S. law enforcement authorities that has also produced indictments of seven Credit Suisse employees and the owner of a trust company since 2011—two of those individuals have pleaded guilty so far—and of U.S. clients of Credit Suisse.  The announcement was made by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Larry J. Wszalek for the Justice Department's Tax Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

At sentencing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith entered judgment and conviction and a restitution order requiring Credit Suisse to pay approximately $1.8 billion dollars to the United States by Nov. 28, per the plea agreement.  Credit Suisse will pay the Justice Department’s Crime Victims Fund, through the District Court Clerk’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, a fine of approximately $1.136 billion and will pay the IRS $666.5 million in restitution.  The parties agreed that Credit Suisse cannot challenge the restitution amount, which can also provide a basis for an IRS civil tax assessment. 

“Today, with its criminal conviction and the payment of $2.6 billion in fines and restitution, Credit Suisse is held fully accountable for helping U.S. taxpayers engage in tax evasion,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole.  “As we expand our offshore investigations, not just in Switzerland, but around the world, the message to banks who engaged in these crimes is clear—step forward, accept responsibility for your past conduct,  and help us hold responsible the U.S. taxpayers who benefitted, and the individuals who assisted them.  Only through full cooperation will you avoid the most severe sanctions.”  

The plea agreement, along with agreements made with state and federal agencies, provides that Credit Suisse will pay a total of approximately $2.6 billion—approximately $1.8 billion in a criminal fine and restitution, $100 million to the Federal Reserve and $715 million to the New York State Department of Financial Services.  Earlier this year, Credit Suisse negotiated cease and desist orders with the Federal Reserve and the state of New York requiring the bank to take certain remedial steps to ensure its compliance with U.S. law in its ongoing operations in addition to the civil penalties.  Credit Suisse also paid approximately $196 million in disgorgement, interest and penalties to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for violating the federal securities laws by providing cross-border brokerage and investment advisory services to U.S. clients without first registering with the SEC.  Together, these actions by U.S. law enforcement and state and federal partners appropriately punish Credit Suisse for its past behavior in these matters.

As part of the plea agreement, Credit Suisse acknowledged that, for decades prior to and through 2009, it operated an illegal cross-border banking business that knowingly and willfully aided and assisted thousands of U.S. clients in opening and maintaining undeclared accounts and concealing their offshore assets and income from the IRS.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Credit Suisse employed a variety of means to assist U.S. clients in concealing their undeclared accounts, including by: 

  • Assisting clients in using sham entities to hide undeclared accounts;

  • Soliciting IRS forms that falsely stated, under penalties of perjury, that the sham entities were the beneficial owners of the assets in the accounts;

  • Failing to maintain records in the United States related to the accounts;

  • Destroying account records sent to the United States for client review;

  • Using Credit Suisse managers and employees as unregistered investment advisors on undeclared accounts;

  • Facilitating withdrawals of funds from the undeclared accounts by either providing hand-delivered cash in the United States or using Credit Suisse’s correspondent bank accounts in the United States;

  • Structuring transfers of funds to evade currency transaction reporting requirements; and

  • Providing offshore credit and debit cards to repatriate funds in the undeclared accounts.

As part of the plea agreement, Credit Suisse further agreed to make a complete disclosure of its cross-border activities, cooperate in treaty requests for account information, provide detailed information as to other banks that transferred funds into secret accounts or that accepted funds when secret accounts were closed and to close accounts of account holders who fail to come into compliance with U.S. reporting obligations.  Credit Suisse has also agreed to implement programs to ensure its compliance with U.S. laws, including its reporting obligations under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and relevant tax treaties, in all its current and future dealings with U.S. customers.

“Today’s sentencing of Credit Suisse AG holds the bank responsible for its decades-long pervasive conduct of aiding U.S. taxpayers in the commission of tax crimes,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Wszalek.  “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously pursue our global enforcement efforts against individuals who avoid their tax obligations by hiding their assets in foreign bank accounts, and the financial institutions, bankers, and other professionals who facilitate these crimes.”

“Credit Suisse AG ran an illegal cross-border business which willfully aided U.S. clients in concealing their offshore assets and income from the U.S. government,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “Simply put, if you are in the business of hiding money from the U.S. government you will be caught, you will be prosecuted and you will pay the price for your crime.  The successful prosecution of Credit Suisse AG, and today’s sentencing is representative of the tireless commitment and hard work of this office and our partners at the Internal Revenue Service.”

“Today's sentencing is yet another striking example of what happens to those who help offshore tax evaders,” said IRS Commissioner Koskinen.  “We owe it to the vast majority of honest U.S. taxpayers to tirelessly search for and prosecute those who dodge paying their fair share and the unprincipled professionals who assist them.”

On December 5, two former employees of a Credit Suisse subsidiary will be sentenced for their involvement in assisting U.S. customers to evade their taxes.  On March 12, Andreas Bachmann, a former banker at Credit Suisse Fides pleaded guilty to a superseding indictment in connection with his work as a banker at Credit Suisse Fides.  On April 30, Josef Dörig, a former Credit Suisse Fides employee and owner/operator of a trust company, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the IRS in connection with his role managing offshore entities used by U.S. taxpayers to conceal their accounts at Credit Suisse.  The pleas were accepted by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in the Eastern District of Virginia.  Bachmann and Dörig each face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison.

November 25, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's Not Me, It's You: The Functioning of Wall Street During the 2008 Economic Downturn"

"It's Not Me, It's You: The Functioning of Wall Street During the 2008 Economic Downturn" Free Download 
Stringham, Edward Peter. “It’s Not Me, It’s You: The Functioning of Wall Street During the 2008 Economic Downturn.” Public Choice, Forthcoming EDWARD PETER STRINGHAM

Public officials have blamed Wall Street and its complex financial products for causing the 2008 economic downturn. This article addresses three popular claims saying that complex financial markets are at fault and need more regulation. It argues that even in the midst of a major economic downturn, the much-maligned mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and unregistered hedge funds functioned almost exactly as designed. When macroeconomic conditions worsened, firms and investors that were paid to assume certain risks had to assume them. Those that opted for safer investment vehicles with more levels of private protection faced fewer problems. Although many investment vehicles lost money, one must differentiate between problems that manifested themselves in markets and problems with the market itself. Even though government policies caused many of the problems, public officials always have an incentive to point the finger at Wall Street and to argue for more regulations when their policies negatively affect markets.

November 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Money Is Rights in Rem: A Note on the Nature of Money

 

"Money Is Rights in Rem: A Note on the Nature of Money" Free Download 
Journal of Economic Issues, December 2014

JONGCHUL KIM, This paper argues that the development of money and the legal concept of property has been intertwined. That is, money and rights in rem have tended to mirror each other historically. The fictional concept of rights in rem was arguably created in the image of money in the late Roman Republic, where the concept of dominium or rights in rem was first settled at law and money became a predominant medium for social relations. The paper demonstrates that contemporary banking, including commercial and shadow banking, creates money by mirroring credit in the image of rights in rem.

November 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bank of Tokyo-Mitusbishi Big Fine for Coverup

... the latest fine levied against Bank of Tokyo-Mitusbishi UFJ (BTMU), which was hit [Wednesday] by New York’s financial regulator with a $315 million penalty. That’s on top of a $250 million fine by the same regulator last year for breaking US sanctions on doing business with Iran, Sudan, and Burma.

 The bank’s anti-money laundering compliance officer has resigned under pressure from the regulator, which banned two other bank executives from conducting business in New York.

Read the article at CompliancEx or at Quartz

BTMU released a statement (pdf) today about the settlement. But the bank, through an outside spokesman, declined to comment on the relocation provision.

According to the consent order (pdf), BTMU kept a “sanctions screening filter” in Tokyo to flag dollar-denominated transactions containing language that would have aroused suspicion in the US, so that bank employees essentially could edit the wire messages before they reached New York.

November 22, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Why the SEC can't agree on what to do with Steven Cohen's $600 million

SECFortune reports that:

When the SEC originally settled the case, the agency’s lawyers told the judge the money should just go back to the Treasury. But plaintiff lawyers argued that the money should go to pay back investors who lost money in the stocks SAC was insider trading in. The judge agreed. And that ignited bickering inside the SEC that basically froze the $600 million, and got us to where we are now.

read the full story at Fortune

November 21, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Switzerland takes important step to boost international cooperation against tax evasion

Switzerland has yesterday become the 52nd jurisdiction to sign the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, which will allow it to go forward with plans to activate automatic exchange of financial account information in tax matters with other countries beginning in 2018.

The landmark decision comes just weeks after Switzerland told the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes that it would implement in a timely manner the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters developed by the OECD and G20 countries. The Swiss decision is subject to Parliamentary approval, as well as the possibility that voters may be asked to approve the necessary laws and agreements.

The Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement is a framework agreement based on the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. It was signed by 51 jurisdictions during the annual meeting of the Global Forum on October 29, 2014 in Berlin.

Bilateral information exchanges will come into effect between signatories after subsequent notifications are filed, as required under the Agreement. A group of early adopters have pledged to work towards launching their first information exchanges by September 2017. Others, including Switzerland, are expected to follow in 2018.

The Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters was endorsed by G20 Leaders at the Leaders’ Summit on 15-16 November 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. It provides for exchange of all financial information on an annual basis, automatically. Most jurisdictions have committed to implementing this Standard on a reciprocal basis with all interested jurisdictions.

November 20, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

IRS Posts Updated 1099 FATCA Forms and Instructions

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Real Estate Developer Sentenced to 121 Months in Prison for $50 Million Dollar Securities Fraud Scheme

DOJ-U-S-ATTORNEYS-OFFICEA commercial real estate developer and mortgage broker was sentenced to serve 121 months in prison for his role in a $50 million securities fraud scheme.

Bradley Holcom, 57, of Canby, Oregon, previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with the sale of approximately $50 million worth of promissory notes to more than 150 investors located throughout the United States. 

Holcom admitted that he solicited investors to provide funds for the development of raw land for commercial and residential purposes through an investment program he called the Trust Deed Investment Program.  Holcom falsely told investors who purchased notes through the program that they would receive a lien on a specific piece of property, and that the lien would be in first position. 

Holcom admitted, however, that he never provided investors with a lien, and instead conveyed a lesser interest that did not allow investors to directly foreclose on the property to protect their investment.  In addition, he admitted that while promising investors that their purported lien would be in first position, he knew the properties were already encumbered by first position liens. 

Holcom also admitted that he sold the properties that were supposedly serving as the security for the promissory notes without informing investors.  Despite his declining financial condition in 2008 and 2009, Holcom continued to solicit investors by misrepresenting the manner in which he would use their investments.  As a result of the scheme, Holcom admitted that his conduct caused approximately $50 million in losses to investors. 

In addition to the prison sentence, Holcom was ordered to pay restitution to his victims, with the final amount to be determined at a subsequent hearing. 

November 18, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Recent Surge of Leveraged Loans Rattles Regulators

DealBook reports that 

As regulators hunt for the next financial bubble, they are homing in on an obscure corner of Wall Street: the debt market where Tom Shannon’s company, a chain of flashy bowling alleys, recently borrowed nearly half a billion dollars.

Mr. Shannon’s company, Bowlmor AMF, is one of hundreds with unlovely balance sheets that have tapped this market for more than $2 trillion since the start of last year.

In recent months, the Federal Reserve and the Officer of the Comptroller of the Currency have intervened to tamp down the market. Leveraged loans are made to companies with low credit ratings that could suffer high losses in a downturn. 

November 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Luxembourg Leaks causes ‘tax storm’ of government responses

ICIJPublic officials across the globe reacted with swift condemnation and calls for reform following ICIJ’s investigation into secret tax deals between Luxembourg and hundreds of international corporations.

Want to see how global companies can avoid billions in taxes by routing their profits through Luxembourg? All the information is there in the leaked documents, but understanding the complex structures companies set up is not an easy task. Here are a few tips on how to read the documents and knowing what to look for.

  • In many cases Luxembourg subsidiaries handling hundreds of millions of dollars in business maintain little presence and conduct little economic activity in Luxembourg. One popular address – 5, rue Guillaume Kroll – is home to more than 1,600 companies.

read the full story and investigate the documents at ICIJ

November 17, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"A Long View of Shareholder Power: From the Antebellum Corporation to the Twenty-First Century"

SSRN"A Long View of Shareholder Power: From the Antebellum Corporation to the Twenty-First Century" HARWELL WELLSTemple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

For most of the twentieth century the conventional wisdom held — probably correctly — that shareholders in America’s large corporations were passive and powerless and that real power in a public corporation was wielded by its managers.

Beginning in the 1980s, however, shareholders in the form of institutional investors started to push for a greater say in corporate decision-making. In the twenty-first century, hedge funds have upped the ante, fighting for major changes in corporations whose shares they own. Once-imperial CEOs have now become embattled, as they fight, but often lose, against activist shareholders demanding policy changes, new dividends, board representation, and even the sale or break-up of corporations. In short, things have changed.

This Article situates the present-day rise of shareholder power by taking a long view over the previous two centuries, moving beyond traditional accounts to reach all the way back to the beginnings of the American business corporation in the early nineteenth century, then following the story of shareholder power up to the present day. This broad view reveals the complicated and shifting nature of shareholder power, documenting how periods of greater shareholder power were interspersed with periods where shareholders had little power, how the focus of shareholder power has moved from controlling shareholders to autonomous managers, and how shareholder power has ebbed and flowed across the last two centuries. It thus not only provides the backstory to present developments, but suggests that what has been seen as a hallmark of American corporate capitalism — the relative powerlessness of shareholders — may only have been typical of a few decades in the middle of the twentieth century.

November 16, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"Law in Regression? Impacts of Quantitative Research on Law and Regulation"

SSRN"Law in Regression? Impacts of Quantitative Research on Law and Regulation"

DAVID C. DONALDChinese University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Quantitative research (QR) has undeniably improved the quality of law- and rulemaking, but it can also present risks for these activities. On the one hand, replacing anecdotal assertions regarding behavior or the effects of rules in an area to be regulated with objective, statistical evidence has advanced the quality of regulatory discourse. On the other hand, because the construction of such evidence often depends on bringing the complex realities of both human behavior and rules designed to govern it into simple, quantified variables, QR findings can at times camouflage complexity, masking real problems. Deceptively objective findings can in this way prevent the kind of deep, difficult granular investigation a problem needs.

In this paper, I examine the methodology of QR, highlighting points where objectivity and verifiability can be threatened. I then discuss a number of case studies where common patterns emerge in the interaction between QR and policymaking. These include the displacement of qualitative problems with inaccurate quantification, the release of powerful, statistical or otherwise quantitative ‘sound bites’ that immediately move policy but are later found to be incorrect, deflating like a ‘bubble’, and the abdication of governance duties by regulators in favour of quantitative indicia like the performance benchmarks of an ‘efficient market’. These case studies reveal a particularly troubling tension between the strength of QR in reaching generalized findings and the uniquely context-specific nature and operation of most laws and regulations.

I recommend a number of measures to improve the use of QR in policymaking, including increasing the transparency of data generation and analysis within the academic community, putting more emphasis on inter-disciplinary creation and validation of findings, using certain cautionary disclosure when making ‘public offerings’ of quantitative findings, and holding policymakers more strictly to their statutory mandates, even if not complementary with quantitative analysis.

November 15, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Did Wall Street buy last week's election?

The WSJ MarketWatch's David Weidner  reports that - 

Wall Street spent $169 million this election cycle, more than any other industry. And, if you expand the definition of Wall Street to include real estate and insurance, the number swells to $306 million. By contrast, public-sector unions spent $44 million, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Read the article at MarketWatch

November 15, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 14, 2014

email subscribe to the International Financial Law Professor

Please SUBSCRIBE to the headlines email of the "International Financial Law Professor" in INtelligence wheel all agenciesthe above menu "SUBSCRIBE"        

Thank you for being our reader! William Byrnes, David Herzig, and Gary Heald.

November 14, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)