CFTC chief defends Dodd-Frank progress, presses cross-border regulation

The chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Thursday defended the agency’s work in developing rules required by the Dodd-Frank Act but said more must be done to regulate the international derivatives market.

The CFTC has come under fire from public interest groups, who say new regulations on swaps and derivatives issued by the agency in accordance with the Wall Street reform law have been weakened under industry pressure.

But Chairman Gary Gensler said the CFTC has completed 90 percent of its rules to bring more oversight to the previously unregulated swaps market, which was a significant contributor to the 2008 economic crisis.

“Swaps market reform is becoming a reality,” Gensler said during remarks at the Sandler O'Neill Global Exchange and Brokerage Conference in New York. “No longer will this market be closed and dark.”


Insider trading alleged in Chinese firm's acquisition of Smithfield Foods

Regulators on Thursday accused a Bangkok-based trader of insider trading ahead of last month’s $4.7 billion acquisition of Smithfield Foods by China’s Shuanghui International Holdings.

Badin Rungruangnavarat made more than $3 million in profits after buying up thousands of out-of-the money Smithfield call options and single-stock futures in the week before the deal went public, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).


News bites: Shining light into ‘dark pools’

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is increasing scrutiny of “dark pools,” virtually unregulated off-exchange trading arenas that have become increasingly popular, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The White House’s move to up its estimate for the “social cost” of carbon emissions could be a game changer for forthcoming regulatory proposals, according to The Hill’s E2 Wire.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is proposing new rules to protect money-market funds from runs like those seen at the height of the 2008 economic crisis, RegWatch reports.

Opinion: Poorly written federal regulations and bickering between agencies have yielded an “appalling level of dysfunction” in the investigation into April’s deadly explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, The Dallas Morning News opines. 


SEC votes to overhaul money market fund rules

Regulators voted Wednesday to propose new rules designed to reduce the threat of runs in the nearly $3 trillion money market fund industry.

Years in the works, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) action represents just one in a set of hurdles on the way to reforms sought as a measure to help stave off a repeat of the 2008 economic crisis.


Warren: Student loan debt 'truly a crisis'

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) believes rising debt from student loans constitutes "an emergency" and "truly a crisis" for the country to handle.

"I see this as an emergency," she said on Monday evening about the need to get student loan debt under control. "We have got to do it."

On July 1, interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans are schedule to rise from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. In 2007 the House, then controlled by Democrats, temporarily lowered rates, but Congress has struggled with the issue ever since.


White House adds sanctions on Iran's currency, auto sector

President Obama approved tighter sanctions Monday on Iran's currency and economy to compel the government's leaders to abandon their efforts to be able to build a nuclear weapon.

In an executive order, the president sought to further isolate Iran by attacking the use of its money internationally and by imposing financial penalties for engaging with portions of its economy or government.

The president's new order levies sanctions on foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's currency, the rial, outside of Iran, including those that seek to buy or sell the rial and institutions that keep large rial accounts outside Iran. Banks, money exchangers and other institutions will be prohibited from maintaing "significant" amounts of the money and from conducting derivative or swaps deals based on the rial's value.


Corporate lawyer joins federal regulator

A former white-collar litigator has become a key advisor to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White.

The two had worked together 20 years ago in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan.

White plucked Robert E. Rice on Monday from his decade-long post at Deutsche Bank AG in New York, where he served as the banking giant’s managing director and head of governance, litigation and regulation for the Americas. He also co-headed its global governance, litigation and operating committee.


Administration targets Iranian sanctions evaders

The Obama administration is taking action against a number of companies around the globe that have helped the Iranian government evade sanctions.

The State and Treasury Departments are targeting a company based in Cyprus and the Ukraine that has concealed oil transactions with Iran as well as an aircraft procurement network that has done business with the country's airlines.

Federal officials claim that, to avoid detection and evade sanctions, the Ukrainian and Cypriot company took part in a scheme to transfer crude oil between three ships, the first of which was owned by Iran's government tanker company. The company also faked documentation to claim that the oil was from Iraq.