Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week we cover the announcement of potential antitrust reforms in the U.S. Read the full story and more news below:
Big Tech Faces Threat of New Antitrust Reforms:
After a 16-month antitrust investigation into four of the largest global technology firms–Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google–U.S. lawmakers have called for highly substantial changes to America’s antitrust legal framework. In a 449-page report released on October 6th by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, the tech giants were found to have abused their monopoly of power by imposing anti-competitive rules within their marketplaces. The report investigated whether existing antitrust laws and enforcement levels can tackle the issue appropriately. The report also developed a series of potential reforms proposing breaking-up the companies through structural separations, changing rules to strengthen non-discrimination provisions to avoid self-preferencing, and changing acquisition considerations.
Former Unaoil Exec Sentenced for Bribery:
Basil Al Jarah, one of Unaoil’s former executives, has been sentenced for bribery in Iraq by the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO). According to their press release, the former Iraq partner paid USD 17M in bribes to public officials to obtain contracts worth USD 1.7 B with Iraq’s South Oil Company and Ministry of Oil. Al Jarah, who pleaded guilty to other bribery offenses in 2019, has been sentenced to three years and four months in prison.
JPMorgan Settles Spoofing Allegations for USD 920M:
Investment bank JPMorgan JPM Chase & Co, settled investigations into the company’s alleged spoofing activities, a practice where firms manipulate markets by entering and canceling large orders to ‘distort supply and demand’ dynamics. The practices are banned under the Dodd-Frank act. JPMorgan, which faced two counts of wire fraud, was accused of placing thousands of misleading orders in precious metals to distort market dynamics from 2008 to 2016. After a guilty plea that led to a deferred prosecution agreement, the investment bank will pay a total of USD 920M to the Justice Department, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and has also agreed to improve its compliance and oversight initiatives.
CitiBank Settles Risk Management Fine for USD 400M:
Citigroup Inc. paid USD 400M to federal banking regulators for failing to have adequate risk management and internal controls in a consent order agreed upon by the bank’s New York board. According to the order, the bank fell short in implementing rigorous systems for regulatory reporting, risk management, and capital planning. Regulators highlight that Citigroup lacks a harmonized method to track customers and transactions. The penalty also orders the bank to create a new committee for risk management and to devise internal corporate governance controls to hold management accountable. As a result of the order, federal banking regulators now also have the power to replace directors and have to be consulted by Citigroup prior to any acquisition decisions.
Bolsonaro Ends Car Wash Corruption Investigation in Brazil:
After announcing that Brazilian public administration is ‘corruption-free’ Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro put an end to the long-running corruption probe into high-level politicians known as the Car Wash probe – Lava Jato. The probe, which began in 2014, sent hundreds of important political and business figures to jail, including former president Lula da Silva and construction conglomerate Odebrecht executives. Sergio Moro, Brazil’s former justice minister and former head investigator of the Car Wash probe, commented that ‘the end of the investigation represents the return of corruption in the country.’
EU AML Watchdog Opens Investigation into the Vatican and Modifies Blacklist:
The Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body Moneyval announced it is evaluating the effectiveness of the legal and institutional measures adopted by the Vatican to counter financial crime. A year ago, the country appointed a financial watchdog who reiterated their commitment to combat money laundering. In other unrelated announcements, the EU Council recently decided to add Anguilla and Barbados to its non-cooperative tax jurisdictions list and removed the Cayman Islands and Oman, as the jurisdictions were recognized to have improved their tax policy framework.