Goldman Sachs Group Inc. agreed to pay $36.3 million over allegations that former employees obtained confidential documents from the Federal Reserve in a settlement that requires the bank to beef up its policies to prevent another lapse.
The Fed is also pursuing a fine and a permanent banking ban against a former Goldman Sachs managing director, Joseph Jiampietro, over his unauthorized use and disclosure of Fed secrets, according to a statement Wednesday from the agency. The Fed said Goldman Sachs’ employees used confidential supervisory information in presentations to clients to try to solicit business.
Starting in 2012, Jiampietro — an investment banker who formerly worked at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — received bank regulators’ unauthorized supervisory information and used it for his work at Goldman Sachs, according to the Fed.
In 2014, a Goldman Sachs banker, Rohit Bansal, allegedly shared confidential Fed documents with members of his team that Bansal got from a New York Fed employee he had previously worked with. According to an earlier $50 million settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services, Bansal obtained about 35 documents on about 20 occasions from his friend Jason Gross, who was still a New York Fed employee. The information Bansal got from Gross related to a bank that was a Goldman Sachs client, according to that settlement.
“Upon discovering that Rohit Bansal had improperly obtained information from his former employer, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, we immediately notified regulators, including the Federal Reserve,” Michael DuVally, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday. “We previously reviewed and strengthened our policies and procedures after Bansal was terminated.”
DuVally said the bank has “no tolerance” for improper handling of confidential supervisory information.
The New York-based lender must fix shortcomings in its policies to prevent future lapses, the Fed said. It must establish an enhanced program to meet compliance expectations around using and disseminating secret supervisory information, according to the settlement. The bank also isn’t allowed to re-hire people involved in the improper disclosures.
In November, the former Goldman Sachs banker Bansal pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor tied to the stolen Fed documents, and the former New York Fed employee, Gross, pleaded guilty to passing him the secret information. The Fed barred Bansal from banking last year, and the Securities and Exchange Commission banned him from the securities industry in June.
Jiampietro had served former FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair as a senior adviser, and when he left the agency in 2010, she thanked him for his “market insight into all areas of policy to help guide and inform FDIC decisions.” Bair also praised the “substantive expertise” of Jiampietro, who had earlier worked for JPMorgan Chase & Co., UBS Group AG and as counsel for the Senate Banking Committee.
“The allegations filed against Mr. Jiampietro are demonstrably false, and rely solely on the testimony of a single and inherently incredible witness,” said Adam Ford, Jiampietro’s lawyer at Ford O’Brien LLP. “He never requested confidential supervisory information from anyone, and never used it for his or anyone’s benefit.”
Oil Rises as Threat of Immediate Iran Supply Recedes
Oil prices rose on Tuesday, with Brent gaining for a fourth consecutive session, as the prospect of extra supply coming to the market soon from Iran faded with talks dragging on over the United States rejoining a nuclear agreement with Tehran.
Indirect discussions between the United States and Iran, along with other parties to the 2015 deal on Tehran’s nuclear program, resumed on Saturday in Vienna and were described as “intense” by the European Union.
A U.S. return to the deal would pave the way for the lifting of sanctions on Iran that would allow the OPEC member to resume exports of crude.
It is “looking increasingly unlikely that we will see the U.S. rejoin the Iranian nuclear deal before the Iranian Presidential Elections later this week,” ING Economics said in a note.
Other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) along with major producers including Russia — a group known as OPEC+ — have been withholding output to support prices amid the pandemic.
“Additional supply from OPEC+ will be needed over the second half of this year, with demand expected to continue its recovery,” ING said.
To meet rising demand, U.S. drillers are also increasing output.
U.S. crude production from seven major shale formations is forecast to rise by about 38,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July to around 7.8 million bpd, the highest since November, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its monthly outlook.
Oil Prices Rise as Demand Improves, Supplies Tighten
Oil prices rose on Monday, hitting their highest levels in more than two years supported by economic recovery and the prospect of fuel demand growth as vaccination campaigns in developed countries accelerate.
Brent was up 53 cents, or 0.7%, at $73.22 a barrel by 1050 GMT, its highest since May 2019.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate gained 44 cents, or 0.6%, to $71.35 a barrel, its highest since October 2018.
“The two leading crude markers are trading at (almost) two-and-a-half-year highs amid a potent bullish cocktail of demand optimism and OPEC+ supply cuts,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
“This backdrop of strengthening oil fundamentals have helped underpin heightened levels of trading activity.”
Motor vehicle traffic is returning to pre-pandemic levels in North America and much of Europe, and more planes are in the air as anti-coronavirus lockdowns and other restrictions are being eased, driving three weeks of increases for the oil benchmarks.
The mood was also buoyed by the G7 summit where the world’s wealthiest Western countries sought to project an image of cooperation on key issues such as recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the donation of 1 billion vaccine doses to poor nations.
“If the inoculation of the global population accelerates further, that could mean an even faster return of the demand that is still missing to meet pre-Covid levels,” said Rystad Energy analyst Louise Dickson.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday that it expected global demand to return to pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2022, more quickly than previously anticipated.
IEA urged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, known as OPEC+, to increase output to meet the rising demand.
The OPEC+ group has been restraining production to support prices after the pandemic wiped out demand in 2020, maintaining strong compliance with agreed targets in May.
On the supply side, heavy maintenance seasons in Canada and the North Sea also helped prices stay high, Dickson said.
U.S. oil rigs in operation rose by six to 365, the highest since April 2020, energy services company Baker Hughes Co said in its weekly report.
It was the biggest weekly increase of oil rigs in a month, as drilling companies sought to benefit from rising demand.
FG Spends N197.74 Billion on Subsidy in Q1 2021
The Federal Government has spent a total sum of N197.74 billion on fuel subsidy in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, according to the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) report for May.
The report noted that the value of shortfall, the amount the NNPC paid as subsidy, in the March receipts stood at N111.97 billion while N60.40 billion was paid in February.
In the three months ended March, the Federal Government spent N197.74 billion on subsidy.
The increase in subsidy was a result of rising oil prices, Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $73.13 per barrel on Monday.
The difference in landing price and selling price of a single litre is the subsidy paid by the government.
On May 19, the Nigerian Governors Forum suggested that the Federal Government removed the subsidy completely and pegged the pump price of PMS at N380 per litre.
The governors’ suggestion followed the non-remittance of the NNPC into the April FAAC payments, the money required by most states to meet their expenditure such as salaries and building of infrastructure.
However, experts have said Nigeria is not gaining from the present surge in global oil prices given the huge money spent on subsidy.
Kalu Aja, Abuja-based financial planner and economic expert, said “If Nigeria is importing Premium Motor Spirit and still paying subsidy, then there is no seismic shift.”
“Nigeria needs oil at $130 to meet the deficit. In the short term, however, more dollar cash flow is expected and with depreciated Naira, it will reduce short term deficit.”
Adedayo Bakare, a research analyst, said that the current prices do not really mean much for the country economically.
He said, “The ongoing transition away from fossil fuels and weak oil production from the output cuts by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries will not make the country benefit much from the rising oil prices.
“Oil production used to be over two million barrels but now around 1.5 million barrels. We need OPEC to relax the output cuts for the naira to gain.”
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