Starting in March 2011, investment advisers who have government clients must keep records of campaign contributions made to elected officials or candidates. But these records are kept secret--buried in internal files, out of the public eye, and available for perusal only by certain government officials.
The new rules were established by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after years of "pay to play" scandals rocked multiple cities and states, in which investment advisers representing large public pension programs used various schemes to funnel campaign contributions to elected officials or candidates. In addition to requiring investment advisers to keep ...Continue reading
A newly created powerful federal financial council will have broad latitude to deny or delay Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests if it adopts proposed rules, charges a financial watchdog group.
Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the new Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), is explicity made subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The Council, whose members are representatives of major financial agencies, has authority to collect wide-ranging information about financial institutions, such as internal company documents, in its mission to ensure the stability of the financial system. In late March, the Council published proposed rules on how the ...Continue reading
As political debate rages in Washington about how to reform the nation’s $509 billion Medicare system, a hearing is taking place in a Florida courtroom today about making data available to the public on how much individual physicians are paid under the program.
Though the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that some $48 billion in improper payments were billed last year to the massive federal program--much of which is driven by health care providers including physicians--the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) maintains that a 1979 court order bars publication of government records ...Continue reading
In February, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met with the CEO and two top-level executives from the London-based bank HSBC to discuss the issue of foreign exchange swaps.
The bank, which has a thriving foreign exchange business, wants Geithner to exempt such swaps from new rules designed to bring transparency to the derivatives market. Under the Dodd-Frank financial law, Geithner was given authority to make this decision, which he is expected to announce any day.
Amounting in the trillions of dollars per day, foreign exchange swaps are used in business to hedge bets on transactions involving different currencies. Typically, two parties ...Continue reading
More than six months after new federal rules went into effect that prohibit banks from charging consumers overdraft fees unless they “opt in” to such an arrangement, government data are lacking on how this has changed banks’ bottom lines.
“This is the most expensive form of credit, and consumers most likely to use it are the most vulnerable. You’d think regulators would want to know exactly how much revenue banks are taking in,” says Jean Ann Fox, director of financial services with the Consumer Federation of America.
The federal regulations came after years of controversy over banks’ practice of ...Continue reading
Penny Pritzker, who served as President Obama’s finance chair during his 2008 campaign and whose name was mentioned as a possible U.S. Commerce Secretary, met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and several other top government heavyweights to discuss Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), according to meeting logs released by the agency this week.
In 2008, Pritzker who has a stake in several real estate and hotel businesses across the country, came under scrutiny for her role in a failed bank that made subprime loans in the leadup to the financial crisis. Pritzker said at the time that the bank ...Continue reading
Elizabeth Warren, who has been charged with setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, reported more meetings with individuals outside the government in December than any other Treasury official working on implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial law.
Warren, who also played an advisory role to the bank bailout oversight committee, reported 15 such meetings with a total of 204 different individuals representing a wide range of interests, from Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, to representatives of financial trade associations, to those from a long list of consumer groups, such as Consumer Federation of America and the Center ...Continue reading
Buried in the massive Dodd-Frank financial law is a section that could prevent the public from obtaining records the government collects as part of its new oversight of hedge funds and other private funds managed by investment advisers.
Section 404 remained unchanged when Congress last fall repealed another part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act--section 929I--that had provided a massive exemption from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Congress approved that repeal under tremendous pressure after Fox Business News reported that the SEC had cited the new ...Continue reading
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is making less information available to the public about how it is dealing with the rising number of bank failures in 2010. Over the last year, the agency has failed to post a complete list of bids on 41 percent of the deals it makes with other banks to take over failing institutions--and what information it does provide is more limited than before.
Before May 2009, the FDIC would provide, upon request, the names of all entities placing bids on failed banks and how much each of them bid for the bank in question ...Continue reading