Signature Bank had criminal investigation looming before it collapsed: report
Authorities were investigating Signature Bank’s work ahead of its shut down on Sunday, according to a Bloomberg report.
The report said that the Justice Department’s offices in Manhattan and Washington were investigating whether the bank took enough measures to detect possible money laundering schemes orchestrated by clients, according to people familiar with the matter. Two other people told Bloomberg that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was also looking into the institution.
Signature Bank was seized by The New York Department of Financial Services on Sunday “to protect depositors” after its customers withdrew billions from the bank after the Silicon Valley Bank collapsed on Friday. The bank had $89 billion in deposits end of last year, according to the department, but more than $79 billion of those deposits were not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), The New York Times reported.
The FDIC only insures up to $250,000 per customer account if a bank fails.
The FDIC and the SEC declined to confirm the report to The Hill, but a SEC spokesperson pointed to SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s statement on Sunday about current market events.
“In times of increased volatility and uncertainty, we at the SEC are particularly focused on monitoring for market stability and identifying and prosecuting any form of misconduct that might threaten investors, capital formation, or the markets more broadly,” he said. “Without speaking to any individual entity or person, we will investigate and bring enforcement actions if we find violations of the federal securities laws.”
The pair of bank closures over the weekend has raised concerns in the banking industry, and has prompted some lawmakers to call for reform. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to repeal rollbacks in banking regulations that was enacted during the Trump administration.
If enacted, the bill would put banks with at least $50 billion in assets back under strict Federal Reserve oversight and make them subject to Dodd-Frank Act stress tests. This would reverse at the Trump-era banking regulation rollback that raised the limit to $250 billion that exempted dozens of banks — including Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank — from the strictest federal oversight.
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