Basel 111 – and money laundering

August 24th, 2014 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

Basel III is proceeding globally, with tangible differences evident between jurisdictions such as pace of adoption, the degrees of strict compliance to the Basel Committee guidance, and the resulting technical infrastructure challenges banks face. Some countries in the Middle East have accelerated
capital deduction phase-in periods or changed limited deductions to
full deductions.

Basel III largely focuses on the liability side of the balance sheet, and modifies requirements for both the quantity and the quality of loss-absorbing capital.

There new requirements for a leverage ratio, and for liquidity and stable funding requirements (a short-term 30-day liquidity coverage ratio and a 1-year
net stable funding ratio). Basel III requires more high-quality common equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital relative to total Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital, and adds a number of capital buffers which can only be met with CET1 capital. These buffers are above regulatory minimums that range from an additional 2.5% of risk-weighted assets up to 8.5%, and even higher in some regions. Basel III recommends an additional loss-absorbing buffer for global and domestic systemically important banks, which can range up to 3.5% – and depend on a bank’s cross-jurisdictional activity (only for G-SIBs), size, interconnectedness, substitutability, and complexity.

In the EU the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV) which relates to Basel
III creates an additional buffer known as a systemic risk buffer, which is applied to the whole financial sector, and subsets of it, to prevent and to mitigate long-term non-cyclical systemic and macro-prudential risks. EU member states can apply systemic risk buffers of 1% – 3% for all exposures, and up to 5% for domestic exposures, without having to seek prior approval from the European Commission. 6 For banks subject to both a systemically important bank buffer and the
systemic risk buffer, the higher of the two will apply, but if the systemic risk buffer applies to domestic exposures only, they will be combined. Expect similar legislation to follow in this region at some point in the not too distant future.

The Basel III framework includes revisions to risk-weighted assets (RWAs) related to counterparty credit risk, including the treatment of “wrong-way” risk.

Globally,jurisdictions look to be implementing the minimum capital
requirements according to the BCBS schedule (by 2015) or even more
rapidly, with a faster phase-in for some of the largest banks. Many regions will adopt the BCBS phase-in schedule (which begins in 2016), but some Middle Eastern countries may require faster compliance.

The Islamic Financial Services Board’s (IFSB) revised capital requirements for Bassel III could help strengthen the Islamic finance industry, according to a recent Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services report. The report titled ‘Basel III Offers An Opportunity For Islamic Banks To Strengthen Their Capitalization And Liquidity Management,” sets out how Islamic banks will implement Basel III.

A liquidity coverage ratio might address some of the industry’s long-standing weaknesses, particularly the lack of high quality liquid assets (HQLA), said the report. The implementation of Basel III will also test the treatment of profit sharing investment accounts (PSIAs) from liquidity and funding perspective.
PSIA holders are, in theory, obliged to share any losses, but this could increase their volatility and liquidity coverage requirements and reduce their role as stable funding sources, The IFSB is likely to release its guidance note on the parameters and calculation of the liquidity coverage ratio and net stable funding ratio in early 2015.

The $300 million settlement between Standard Chartered (SC) and the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS), announced on 19 August, again highlights operational and regulatory risks for the bank, says Fitch Ratings.
The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) said the British bank’s internal compliance systems had failed to detect or act on a large number of “potentially high-risk transactions” mostly originating from Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. Banking group Standard Chartered is liable to legal action in the UAE after it agreed to close some customers’ UAE accounts in an anti-money laundering settlement with US regulators, the UAE central bank said “because of the material and moral damage which is falling on them”
‘The new punishment came two years after the bank paid US regulators US$667 million to settle charges it violated US sanctions by handling thousands of money transactions involving Iran, Myanmar, Libya and Sudan.

In 2011 Dubai-based Noor Islamic Bank, since re-named Noor Bank, halted a business in which it channelled billions of dollars from Iranian oil sales through its accounts, as Washington stepped up sanctions over Iran’s disputed nuclear plans.

In May last year, the UAE revoked the licences of two local money exchange companies for non-compliance with regulations including rules against money laundering.

Last month The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision last week proposed standards on money laundering risks, which require banks to include AML within their firm-wide risk management process. “Basel’s commitment to AML is fully aligned with its mandate to strengthen the regulation, supervision and practices of banks worldwide, with the purpose of enhancing financial stability,” the committee stated on issuing the proposal for consultation.

AML is a new area for Basel, which usually deals with prudential standards such as the Basel III capital rules. Its efforts are in addition to those of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which issued global AML standards in 2012 and a flurry of practice guidelines last week. Basel supports individual country implementation of FATF standards, and views their proposed standards as supplemental to these, including cross-references back to these in its text.

In Iraq last year political and economic Iraqi circles confirmed the presence of extensive money-laundering operations. Weak monitoring systems and political conflicts of interest, were reasons advanced that prevented the exposure of these operations. Ahmad al-Jabouri, a member of the Integrity Committee in the Iraqi parliament, said in a statement that the amount of money subject to laundering operations are around “20% of Iraq’s investment budget.” Iraq’s 2013 general budget is more than $115 billion, $46 billion of which are investment expenditures. According to Jabouri, money-laundering operations make up $9 billion per year

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