Sir Allen Stanford turns out to be no knight in shining armor. He's just another greedy creep who thought he was entitled to other peoples money. Sir Allen might just be another garden variety Ponzi Schemer; but compared to Madoff this guy is a piker. The theft of $8bn is petty larceny compared to Madoff's massive $50bn swindle.
It is becoming startling clear that we can no longer view these types of events as isolated incidents. Sir Allen may be this weeks poster child for capitalists gone wild; but the shock and awe of audacious financial crime is becoming a consistent lead story on the nightly news. Public trust in the financial markets is at stake. If people cannot trust their financial fiduciary the whole system goes down.
The SEC's reluctance to act on information concerning Madoff irregularities and the announcement that over 500 public firms are being reviewed for possible fraudulent business practices are raising a public outcry for more vigorous oversight and protection. The swirling rumors of bank insolvencies, nationalizations and news of their egregious failure to adhere to basic risk management precepts are turning the skeptical taxpayers into vocal opponents of the TARP program and any future bank bailouts.
The allegations that UBS marketed a tax evasion scheme to attract over 50,000 US clients to their private banking business with the promise that it would shield them from onerous tax liabilities may be the straw that breaks the camels back. US taxpayers are struggling from the burdensome pain of high taxes they dutifully pay. They are confused and frightened by the orgy of government spending and how the financial industry bailouts will effect them. The credit crisis and the stunning losses people incurred in their retirement and investment portfolios is casting widening doubt about the trustworthiness of the banking system. Citizens are urging their elected representatives that all financial service providers must come under a microscope of scrutiny and oversight. Consumers want assurances that all fiduciaries are sound. Taxpayers are demanding that regulators insist that financial institutions provide a level of transparency to assure consumers that they are in compliance with all regulatory mandates, have a program of risk management controls and offer proof of an ethical corporate governance program.
The US tax payer has made it clear that they can no longer shoulder an egregious tax burden that continues to finance insolvent financial institutions that failed miserably to manage risk or comply with the barest minimum standards of proper corporate governance.
The allegations that surfaced suggesting that Stanford Financial may be linked to money laundering for Latin American drug cartels through The Bank of Antigua and related banking enterprises in Venezuela and Ecuador is sure to usher in a new era of aggressive enforcement initiatives by regulators. The practice of selling worthless CDs to retail investors that promised high rates of interest is the tip of the spear in a sophisticated money laundering scheme. This will create some added urgency for regulators to conduct an in depth reviews of financial institutions AML compliance programs. Examiners will aggressively pursue fund managers to determine that Know Your Customer (KYC), Customer Identification Procedures (CIP), Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Politically Exposed People (PEP) programs are meeting acceptable standards to detect and deter money laundering. Of particular concern will be hedge fund complexes with incorporated off shore structures. To be sure, examiners will liberally interpret and claim jurisdictional nexus on all offshore structures linked to US domiciled funds. The US Treasury coffers are bare and it will look to collect taxes on any revenue sources it deems as taxable.
Financial institutions need to demonstrate to counter parties, regulators, SROs and most importantly investors; that they have a sound risk management program in place that protects the funds investors against all classes of operational risk. Sum2 offers an AML audit program fund managers use to maintain compliance standards that demonstrate program excellence to regulators and investors.
You can believe the examiners are sharpening their spears. Looking to bag a kill and make an example of wayward managers with lax compliance controls. Be ready, be vigilant and be prepared.
You Tube Video: Moody Blues: Nights in White Satin
Risk: money laundering, regulatory, operations, reputation