Classifying actual employees as independent contractors has long been a human resources tactic to hold down a company’s expenses related to payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, overtime pay, worker’s compensation, and various employee-benefits packages. But as recent cases have demonstrated, the judicial system is increasingly taking a dim view of employers who misclassify their employees as independent contractors, and the compliance risk for the employer may no longer be worth it.
What spans 1,341 pages and is intended to revamp the regulation of loans averaging a mere $350? The answer is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High Cost Installment Loans” rule proposal issued this past summer. According to the agency, the proposed rule would do away with “payday loan debt traps” that expose borrowers to an endless cycle of debt accompanied by excessive fees and usurious interest rates. Banking industry representatives, on the other hand, claim that the proposed regulations are overly complex and, in fact, would lead to a lack of access to credit by a sector that is unlikely to be loan-worthy from other financial industry sources.
A global banking and investment firm that encouraged its research analysts to frequently communicate with its customers—but failed to employ safeguards as to the release of nonpublic information—has been hit with a $9.5 million penalty. The bank was also charged with publishing an improper research report and failure to preserve certain electronic records requested by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during its investigation.
The aggressiveness of US regulators in going after Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violators was demonstrated again last month when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) assessed a $200 million penalty against a major asset manager. Founded over twenty years ago, the organization is one of the world’s largest institutional alternative asset managers with approximately $37 billion in assets under management (AUM). But that pedigree did not stop the fund’s managers from employing overseas agents who paid huge bribes to officials in Africa in order to get lucrative fund business.
What an intriguing year it has been in the field of cybersecurity—or perhaps to put it more accurately, the lack thereof. From the theft of 63,000 student records from a US university, to 26 million from the Department of Veterans Affairs, computer hackers—whether inside a company or overseas—have managed to mess up everything from student loan records to medical records and, of course, racy personal email confidentiality.
I recently wrote about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and their value in planning for and assessing the health of a business (“Know Your KPIs”—September 15, 2016). The importance of honestly reporting KPI metrics was underscored by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week when it assessed a $90 million penalty against a Swiss multinational financial services company that operates a global bank and other financial services. The reason? Alleged deviation in their public disclosure of an important performance metric used by investors to gauge the growth of the company.
How’s that new account of yours at America’s third largest bank? You say you didn’t open a new account there? That’s what you think. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the bank opened between 1.5 million and 2 million bank accounts without the account holder’s permission or knowledge.
But that’s not all: the bank also submitted over half a million credit card applications without permission. Ghost accounts? Ghost credit cards? The numbers alone put Chicago’s notorious “ghost voting” records to shame. Here’s how it all came about.
It has been one year since New York State issued its first license for the operation of a virtual currency firm in that state. The intended goal of such licensure is consumer protection, enforcement of anti-money laundering (AML) statutes, and overall cyber-security. Other states have proposed their own regulation of virtual currencies, and several global banks have joined in developing electronic ledger technology upon which it is based. The once-eschewed Bitcoin seems to have come of age.