The News Bee

Warren seeks public hearing on bank waivers

Warren seeks public hearing on bank waivers

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a frequent Wall Street critic, is taking aim at major banks that admitted manipulating the world’s foreign-exchange currency market. Warren wants the U.S. Department of Labor to hold hearings on whether the banks should be allowed to manage retirement accounts, the Financial Times reported Sunday.UBS-bank

“When banks plead guilty to a crime, federal agencies must do more than look the other way,” Warren told the Financial Times. “It is not too late for the Department of Labor to hold a public hearing before it decides that such brazen lawbreakers can be trusted managing workers’ retirement accounts.” JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, London-based Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland agreed to plead guilty to criminal anti-trust charges and pay more that $5.5 billion for rigging the $5.3-trillion-a-day foreign-exchange market.

Swiss banking giant UBS also admitted involvement in the manipulation, but received conditional immunity from criminal prosecution because its officials came forward and reported the misconduct to prosecutors. However, the new admission of wrongdoing prompted the Department of Justice to reopen the 2012 non-prosecution agreement over UBS’ manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), a financial benchmark used to set rates on trillions of dollars in mortgages, loans and credit cards. As a result, UBS agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud in the Libor case.

In the wake of the plea agreements, the banks sought U.S. waivers that would enable them to continue normal business operations. The Securities and Exchange Commission approved one set of waivers last week, authorizing the banks to continue their usual securities business. The approvals drew criticism from Commissioner Kara Stein, who argued they posed “risks to investors and the American public.”