France’s Largest Bank BNP Paribas Loses $80 Million Due to Trader’s Pre-Vacation Snafu

According to multiple sources, BNP SA, known by many as the largest bank in France, reportedly made a loss of $80 million in derivative trades connected to the United States.

The sources confirmed that Antoine Lours, the Head of U.S index trading at BNP, is yet to return to his position at the bank. Lours has been away on vacation since Christmas when he initiated trades on the S&P 500 Index.

Increasing tensions between the United States and China over tariffs and trade disputes caused U.S stock prices to slump over the holiday. Although the stocks did regain their ground, the high volatility concerned many traders and investors, causing massive stock selloffs.

U.S. Trading Desk Shutdown

It hasn’t been the perfect start of 2019 for BNP Paribas. In addition to the $80 million lost over trades gone awry, the bank will close down its U.S. commodities derivatives desk. The commodities division consisted of 16 traders who traded commodities such as agricultural products, metals, and energy. The decision to close is in line with an earlier decision made by the bank to cease financing oil sands and shale projects.

According to an unnamed source, the decision indicates a series of adjustments made by the bank, aiming at protecting its profitability.

Jean Pierre Lambert, Analyst at London-based Keffe, Bruyette & Woods, said:

“The bank seems to be adopting enhanced discipline on costs and profitability at its markets activities.”

Opera Trading Desk

The bank will also be shutting down Opera Trading Capital, its proprietary trading division. The division, which makes risky bets with BNP’s capital, is being shut down after last year’s market volatility saw it struggle to make profits. The business is reportedly funded with over $600 million. The bank is reportedly closing it so its resources can be reallocated to client-focused businesses.

Major Banks Call Grim Results

BNP’s key trading business saw a 10% drop in revenue over three-quarters of 2018, while Citigroup Inc. also reported a 21% drop in trading fixed income, commodities and currency on Monday. JPMorgan Chase &Co. followed on Tuesday, claiming that its trading business was greatly affected by “challenging market conditions.”


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Author: Melanie Kramer
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Bitcoin Is Smoking

Thousands of tobacco shops in France will start to sell Bitcoin coupons from the 1st January next year.

This year has been a funny one for Bitcoin. If we look to the future we expect to see Bitcoin surge once again to its one time high of almost $20,000 but as of now, it is trading at just under the $4,500 mark. When we look back to 2018, most of us will most likely see it as a write off since this whole year has basically been a downtrend with the past two weeks massively crashing the price of Bitcoin.

Nevertheless, 2019 is a new year with new hopes and it is quickly approaching and bringing in good news for the crypto market. At the start of next year, there will be thousands of points of sales which will be selling Bitcoin throughout France.

With support from the Central Bank, and the French Prudential Supervision Resolution Authority, the institution charged with monitoring the transactions performed by banks insurance companies in France.

As reported by Bitcoinist, the authority has officially started the authorise the Federation of tobacco shops to start selling Bitcoin at the start of next year. Initially, there will be around 3,500 shops which will be geared up with the software to process direct purchases of coupons of Bitcoins.

The amounts of Bitcoin which can be purchased will be of values which include, 50 euros, 100 euros and 250 euros. Following this, the other tobacconists will also be geared up to exchange the leading digital currency.


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Author: Adrian Barkley
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Greek Supreme Court is Violating Alleged Bitcoin Launderer’s Rights, Lawyer Argues

The lawyer representing the alleged former operator of now-defunct crypto exchange BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik, has accused the Greek Supreme Court of “grossly violating” his rights, major Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported Nov. 19.
39-year old Russian national Vinnik, a.k.a “Mr. Bitcoin,” was indicted by U.S. authorities and detained in Greece on July 25, 2017 on criminal charges of fraud and laundering up to $4 billion in Bitcoin (BTC) via BTC-e.

Russia and France have since both sought the defendant’s extradition in regard to a further series of fraud allegations. When a Thessaloniki court ruled in support of Vinnik’s extradition to France this summer, he appealed against the decision at the Supreme Court.

As TASS reports, Vinnik’s lawyer Zoya Constantopoulous has this week accused the Supreme Court of failing to provide translations of court documents at her client’s request, in what she has argued is “a violation” of his rights:

“As of November 17, [Vinnick] did not receive an official translation of the documents of the French extradition request […] these documents were not translated into Russian, they have no seals or signatures.”

The lawyer further accused the Greek judiciary of discrimination on political/national grounds, claiming that the court would not have similarly treated “any Greek or EU citizen.”

Vinnik’s legal representatives reportedly consider that his extradition to France will result in his further extradition to the U.S. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a comment this July accusing the Greek authorities of “continu[ing] to complicate relations with Russia,” and requesting that Russia’s extradition request be given priority over that of France.

TASS states that a decision over the conflicting extradition requests will likely be settled by the Greek Ministry of Justice, or the country’s leadership.
Following the closure of BTC-e in July 2017, the U.S. has been seeking a penalty of $110 million from BTC-e and another $12 million from Vinnik for his alleged role in the exchange’s anti-money-laundering (AML ) violations.

As he continues to publicly defend his innocence and rebuff that he was ever an operator of BTC-e, Vinnik has further been prompted to deny involvement in the 2011 Mt. Gox hack in response to crypto security experts’ claims he had a direct relationship to the incident.

A New York Times report this fall indicated that BTC-e is suspected of handling funds used by a Russian military intelligence unit, which U.S. investigators have accused of hacking Democrats’ emails ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.


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Author: Marie Huillet
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