British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Sunday he wanted Financial Services Authority (FSA) – – Britain’s financial watchdog — to investigate Goldman Sachs after it was charged with fraud by U.S. regulators. Meanwhile, the UK Financial Services Authority did not make any comment on Brown’s speech on Sunday. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday charged Wall Street investment giant Goldman Sachs with “defrauding investors” over subprime mortgage securities, which were largely blamed for the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The government agency, which is responsible for regulating the financial markets in the country, alleged that Goldman Sachs failed to disclose crucial information to investors of its securities that a major hedge fund had bet against the securities.
Royal Bank of Scotland, the part-nationalised UK bank that lost $840 million in an allegedly fraudulent investment created by Goldman Sachs, will await the outcome of US investigations before deciding whether to pursue its own legal action. RBS will see if the Securities and Exchange Commission is likely to be successful in the civil suit it has launched against Goldman. In the suit, it accuses the investment bank of securities fraud relating to a complex derivatives deal linked to subprime mortgages. RBS lost money on the deal through its ownership of ABN, the Dutch bank it bought at the height of the credit bubble in 2007, which had acted as a guarantor for ACA, the main counterparty in the deal.
City bankers saw near unprecedented income growth over the past decade, with the highest paid receiving nearly a third of the UK’s total wage bill, according to recent research. The study, which cited bankers’ bonuses and pay at the top end of financial services as a driving force behind Britain’s rising pay inequality, found financial services professionals took home an additional £12 billion a year by the end of the ten year period.
Bank dividends throughout Europe are at their lowest level on record as recovering financial institutions retain earnings to increase capital. According to city banking sources the average dividend yield among European banks is now 1.9 percent, with over a quarter of the continent’s top 50 banks paying no dividend. Regulators have been pressuring banks not to resume or increase payments while details of new capital requirements remain unclear. Some banks have cut dividends despite making a profit, with British bank Barclays cutting its dividend from 11.5 pence to 2.5 pence despite profits of £11.6 billion last year.
Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland closed up 2.1 pence at 50.4 pence on Monday, 0.2 pence above the 50.2 pence average price paid when the Government invested £45.5 billion pounds. The current price represents a £180 million profit for British taxpayers. Shares in Lloyds Banking Group rose 0.72 pence to 65.42 pence, leaving the taxpayer £2.26 billion in the red on the Government’s 41 percent investment.
Some of the UK’s poorest northern and peripheral regions have seen a growth in business and investment, narrowing the gap with the south as an attractive place to do business, according to a recent survey. The survey showed that the highest increase in rankings since 1997 for the UK’s periphery. Northwest England was the star performer in the index, rising from eighth to fourth place among the UK’s 12 regions. [Read more…]