The Gateway news round-up: 11 November

Top stories from the worlds of banking, law, consulting and accounting to help boost your commercial awareness

Here's a brief summary of the top finance and legal industry news from the last two weeks. For a more in-depth commentary on the recent Royal Bank of Scotland downgrade, PwC's potential purchase of consultancy Booz & Co, or the legal issues surrounding the Co-Operative bank, look out for this week's issue on stands around your campus and in your careers department.

Banking industry news

Traders could be banned from chat rooms

The Financial Times reports that investment banks are considering banning traders from electronic chat rooms. It comes as the investigation into potential currency market manipulation heats up.

Regulators in UK, US, Switzerland and Hong Kong have alleged that traders at a number of global banks used chat rooms to share confidential information about client orders.

US government demands $864 million from Bank of America

Bank of America is facing a compensation claim of $864 million (£540 million) from the US government. It comes after a federal jury found the bank liable for defrauding state-backed mortgage lenders Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, which incurred huge losses over subprime mortgages that were sold to them by the Bank of America's Countrywide Financial unit.

The Obama administration is also seeking compensation from Rebecca Mairone, a former Countrywide executive. Bank of America maintains its claim that the Countrywide's fraudulent subprime mortgage programme, known as "HUSTLE", ended before it acquired the unit in 2008.

Investment banks look to arts graduates for inspiration

Banks are looking to hire more arts and humanities graduates, according to efinancialnews.com. The website quotes Michael Ridley, a vice chairman in investment banking at J.P. Morgan, who says that there has probably been "unconscious bias" against arts graduates in the past.

Many banks are now coming round to the fact that arts students have valuable communication and presentation skills which, even in trading, are sometimes more important than being able to number-crunch.

Legal industry news

City law firms targeted by hackers

The largest global law firms are seen as the "soft underbelly" in the worldwide cyber security battle, claimed The Lawyer recently. These firms hold vast amounts of valuable and sensitive confidential information about the world's largest financial institutions and corporates, yet are less protected against cyber attacks than their peers in other industries. One top 10 City firm's chief information officer says the report, "is convinced of the inevitability of a prominent legal practice going down in flames as a result of a cyber attack breaching client confidentiality, rendering the practice's wider reputation and market position untenable."

First TV broadcasts from Court of Appeal

The proceedings of the Court of Appeal have recently begun being televised, the first time the activities of an English court have been broadcast in history. From 1925 until now, the use of images of judges, jurors, parties or witnesses in the courts has been subject to a ban, which has now been lifted. The broadcasts will be facilitated and funded by four news organisations - BBC, ITN, the Press Association and Sky News - who will decide together which courtroom out of five with the necessary equipment should be featured each day.

Junior City lawyer founds new diversity initiative

Norton Rose Fulbright associate Chris White, who qualified into the firm's financial services regulation team in 2010, has set up an online service providing free careers assistance to undergraduates interested in becoming solicitors. His organisation, known as "Aspiring Solicitors" will be particularly geared towards students from backgrounds historically under-represented in the profession. On-campus activities arranged by Aspiring Solicitors will include both talks from law firm representatives, and exam tips and model exam answers from lecturers. White hopes to eventually be able to build up a fund to cover the legal education of deserving students.

Consulting and accounting industry news

Evasion in the Caymans

Chancellor George Osborne has announced an agreement with the Cayman Islands to share information on British taxpayers as part of a clampdown on tax evasion. In a speech given to Parliament on 5 November, Osborne announced that information held by the Cayman Islands will automatically be passed to officials at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The deal is the first of its kind with an overseas territory.

Deloitte sell stake in Work Programme

Deloitte has sold its stake in the government's flagship Work Programme, prompting arguments the government has failed in its objective to create a viable market in the welfare-to-work industry. The professional services firm had owned a 50 per cent share in Ingeus, one of the private companies operating the scheme, which contracts companies to help the long-term unemployed find work. Employment Minister Esther McVey has insisted the sale does not represent a loss of confidence in the programme, claiming Deloitte's sale is due to the business performing well.

French farmers protest green tax

Farmers in Brittany have expressed anger at a new eco-tax on the heavy goods vehicles used to transport produce from their farms to buyers. It is claimed the tax will cost farmowners an extra €10,000 (£8,412) a year. Protestors campaigning against President Hollande's tax increase have directed their anger at automatic poll stations on the French motorways, destroying eleven to date. This and other tax increases have led to President Hollande being named in some polls as the most unpopular president France has ever had.

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