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Home » Daily Briefing » Daily briefing - 29 April 2019

Daily briefing - 29 April 2019

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Singapore bank DBS reported higher than expected earnings, with an 8.5 percent rise in first-quarter net profit from a year earlier, and said the macro-economic environment had stabilized. 'By and large, I'm relatively sanguine about the business momentum,' CEO Piyush Gupta told a news conference. DBS maintained its forecast of mid-single-digit loan growth for this year and stable net interest margins, a key gauge of profitability," reports Reuters. Strong lending figures overcame weaknesses in other areas, with Mr Gupta identifying a drop in mortgages. DBS has undertaken major restructuring in recent years to compete in a more digitalised environment.

Feeling the need for a change of scene? Bloomberg today writes about a global hiring spree in Hong Kong as the city's newly-minted digital banks gear up for action. "Four ventures that won permits have about 200 people in the city, which may more than double by the time they start operating, said Carol Cheung, a director at headhunter Robert Walters Plc," according to Bloomberg. "The Hong Kong Monetary Authority expects the virtual banks to begin offering retail and commercial services within nine months and is processing four more applications." The lack of fintech talent in Hong Kong is one thing, but there's also a lack of compliance and risk officers, who are in high demand elsewhere, especially in Europe, where banks are frantically stuffing departments with compliance officers.

It's not all fake news and social media faking. In a time when the role of independent media is more critical than ever, Lafferty News has frequently pointed in recent years to the outstandingly successful development of cross-border alliances between investigative journalists and their organisations. The reality is that journalists don't normally find documents or uncover things by going through stacks of papers. Concerned citizens sometimes deliver material to journalists in an effort to expose cover-ups. This is a different animal to the 'citizen journalism' that arises from smartphone possession. And it's now looking like these new organisations have more integrity that Europe's paid regulators. Europe now looks badly exposed in terms of compliance. The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Organisation awarded its 2018 'Actor of the year in Organised Crime and Corruption' award to Danske Bank. The EBA this month produced a draft report into the Danske Bank money-laundering scandal. "The draft, seen by the Financial Times, identified four breaches of EU law in how the bank was supervised by Danish and Estonian authorities, and made recommendations to the two countries for follow-up action. Instead, the EBA's board of supervisors, the agency's key decision-making body, voted to close the investigation without adopting any findings, a move that has drawn sharp criticism from senior EU policymakers." To the outside observer, this looks very much like Europe's banking supervisors closing down an investigation that appears to show a colossal lack of oversight by the supervisors.

The Telegraph, which couldn't find a scoop in an ice cream shop, claims an exclusive story on Revolut's forthcoming problems in Europe. The paper claims it has seen a draft of a resolution to come before the Lithuanian parliament on Thursday, which it says threatens the European banking licence of Revolut. According to the Telegraph, Lithuania granted Revolut a licence in order to challenge the UK as Europe's financial technology centre. The paper adds that "Revolut's chief executive Nikolay Storonsky has links with Russia". Considering that Storonsky was actually born in Russia, this seems like a strange angle to pursue. "If Lithuania finds Russian influence, Revolut could lose its European banking licences, which allow it to offer current accounts and loans across the EU," writes The Telegraph. "The move would also be a blow to Revolut's plans to expand services such as trading crypto-currencies and converting cash for spending overseas. The resolution will request that a Lithuanian national security committee investigates Revolut to "reassess whether Revolut's activities are in line with the national security interests of the Republic of Lithuania". The chances of Lithuania rescinding Revolut's licence based on these allegations are close to zero. But if Lithuanian parliamentarians take a closer look at the Wired magazine story we noted last month, there could be awkward questions, at the very least.

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