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Home » Daily Briefing » Daily briefing - 30 May 2019

Daily briefing - 30 May 2019


When the German police raided Deutsche Bank headquarters back in November 2018, details emerged shortly afterwards that the investigation revolved around a Deutsche Bank operation in the British Virgin Islands. "The two Deutsche employees at the core of the case are managing directors in the bank's compliance and wealth management units," the Irish Times reported at the time. "Both are still employees of the lender and so far have not been disciplined, said a person familiar with the matter." The German police raided the bank after Deutsche Bank employees noticed the name Regula appearing in the Panama Papers. "The Deutsche unit at the core of the case is called Regula Limited, domiciled in Road Town in the British Virgin Islands, a source said, confirming a report by German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the news organisations that led the reporting about the 'Panama Papers'."

The name Regula rang a bell at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which began looking back through its document database, finding the Regula operation served global billionaires to stash money offshore. "For a few hundred dollars a year, dummy companies like Regula that are offered by banks, law firms and boutique offshore specialists worldwide can appear on the paperwork of an offshore company as a director or shareholder," writes the ICIJ. "A company's real owner does not appear on public records. Nominee services are legal and widespread. Clients can choose such services to avoid unwanted publicity, for example. Nominees are especially popular with the global elite and with criminals who seek to obscure money from tax authorities or hide evidence of graft." It should be noted that it was Deutsche Bank employees who drove the police to investigate the bank. That the bank already thought it good or prudent to establish a subsidiary called Regula, with a mission to escape regulation, tells us a lot about Deutsche Bank. How can a bank retain any trust when it names a unit for deception Regula?

Speculation is rife about Alibaba's new Hong Kong listing, with many interpreting it in the frame of the ongoing China-US trade negotiations. As Reuters observes however, a listing in Hong Kong would bring Alibaba closer to Asian banks, potentially opening up new lines of funding for the ecommerce company. "A Hong Kong-based analyst said while Alibaba is not in need of cash, the listing could help it improve its access to loans from Asian banks. 'It means closer access to Chinese investors, and maybe Chinese investors are more bullish than the global investors in Alibaba,' the analyst added." As Lafferty Group writes in our new SME Business Banking service, the Chinese government has instructed MYBank — the bank inside Ant Financial — to focus on making as little profit as possible while delivering credit to China's 100-million-plus small businesses. But that's not a job MYBank can manage alone. But MYBank is also under orders to share its core banking technologies, derived from Ant Financial, with other Chinese banks, which presumably then are able to vastly improve their lending and returns from the SME sector. Not everything is about America.

Silicon Valley aggregator Plaid has arrived in the UK, where it believes it will be able to make an impression in the new but barely-tested Open Banking regime. "Plaid, which is backed by high profile investors including Mary Meeker and Andreessen Horowitz, provides the technology for other financial technology companies to link to customers' bank accounts," writes the FT. "In the US, its technology is integrated with 15,00 banks and links to popular apps such as Venmo and Coinbase. Plaid said it had already launched with two customers, including the money-management app Emma, and that it supported integration with eight of the UK's biggest banks and challenger banks."

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