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SEC Charges Tampa-Based Health Insurance Distributor And its Former CEO with Making False Statements to Investors

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Washington, D.C.–(Newsfile Corp. – July 20, 2022) – The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Health Insurance Innovations (HII) and its former CEO Gavin Southwell for concealing extensive consumer complaints about short-term and limited health insurance products HII offered. HII has since changed its name to Benefytt Technologies and become a private company.

According to the SEC’s order, from March 2017 through March 2020, HII and Southwell falsely told investors that HII held its insurance distributors to high compliance standards, which prohibited distributors from making misrepresentations to consumers about health insurance products offered by HII. HII and Southwell also told investors in earnings calls and investor presentations that HII’s consumer satisfaction was 99.99 percent and state insurance regulators received very few consumer complaints regarding HII. In reality, HII tracked tens of thousands of dissatisfied consumers who complained that HII’s distributors made misrepresentations to sell the health insurance products, charged consumers for products they did not authorize, and failed to cancel plans upon consumers’ requests. The order finds that the products provided minimal health benefits, did not cover pre-existing conditions, prescriptions, and hospital care, and were not considered qualifying health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, leaving many consumers with unpaid medical bills when they sought treatment.

“Access to healthcare and consumer satisfaction are increasingly important considerations to investors,” said Stacy Bogert, Associate Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “It is critical that disclosures are truthful and complete, and we will hold companies and their executives accountable for misleading investors about these factors.”

The SEC’s order finds HII and Southwell violated certain antifraud and reporting provisions of the federal securities laws and Southwell profited by selling HII stock when it was inflated as a result of the misconduct. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings and allegations, HII and Southwell agreed to a cease and desist order, HII agreed to pay an $11 million penalty, and Southwell agreed to pay more than $1 million in penalties, disgorgement, and interest to settle the charges.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by John McNulty, Gosia Spangenberg, and Avron Elbaum with assistance from SEC trial counsel John Timmer, Nicholas Margida, and Olivia Choe. The case was supervised by Lisa Deitch and Ms. Bogert.

The Division of Enforcement’s Climate and ESG Task Force provided assistance in this matter. More information about the Task Force can be found here.

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Central banks and the FinTech sector unite to change global payments space

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The BIS, along with seven leading central banks and a cohort of private financial firms, has embarked on an ambitious venture known as Project Agorá.

Named after the Greek word for “marketplace,” this initiative stands at the forefront of exploring the potential of tokenisation to significantly enhance the operational efficiency of the monetary system worldwide.

Central to this pioneering project are the Bank of France (on behalf of the Eurosystem), the Bank of Japan, the Bank of Korea, the Bank of Mexico, the Swiss National Bank, the Bank of England, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. These institutions have joined forces under the banner of Project Agorá, in partnership with an extensive assembly of private financial entities convened by the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

At the heart of Project Agorá is the pursuit of integrating tokenised commercial bank deposits with tokenised wholesale central bank money within a unified, public-private programmable financial platform. By harnessing the advanced capabilities of smart contracts and programmability, the project aspires to unlock new transactional possibilities that were previously infeasible or impractical, thereby fostering novel opportunities that could benefit businesses and consumers alike.

The collaborative effort seeks to address and surmount a variety of structural inefficiencies that currently plague cross-border payments. These challenges include disparate legal, regulatory, and technical standards; varying operating hours and time zones; and the heightened complexity associated with conducting financial integrity checks (such as anti-money laundering and customer verification procedures), which are often redundantly executed across multiple stages of a single transaction due to the involvement of several intermediaries.

As a beacon of experimental and exploratory projects, the BIS Innovation Hub is committed to delivering public goods to the global central banking community through initiatives like Project Agorá. In line with this mission, the BIS will soon issue a call for expressions of interest from private financial institutions eager to contribute to this ground-breaking project. The IIF will facilitate the involvement of private sector participants, extending an invitation to regulated financial institutions representing each of the seven aforementioned currencies to partake in this transformative endeavour.

Source: fintech.globa

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TD Bank inks multi-year strategic partnership with Google Cloud

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TD Bank has inked a multi-year deal with Google Cloud as it looks to streamline the development and deployment of new products and services.

The deal will see the Canadian banking group integrate the vendor’s cloud services into a wider portion of its technology solutions portfolio, a move which TD expects will enable it “to respond quickly to changing customer expectations by rolling out new features, updates, or entirely new financial products at an accelerated pace”.

This marks an expansion of the already established relationship between TD Bank and Google Cloud after the group previously adopted the vendor’s Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) for TD Securities Automated Trading (TDSAT), the Chicago-based subsidiary of its investment banking unit, TD Securities.

TDSAT uses GKE for process automation and quantitative modelling across fixed income markets, resulting in the development of a “data-driven research platform” capable of processing large research workloads in trading.

Dan Bosman, SVP and CIO of TD Securities, claims the infrastructure has so far supported TDSAT with “compute-intensive quantitative analysis” while expanding the subsidiary’s “trading volumes and portfolio size”.

TD’s new partnership with Google Cloud will see the group attempt to replicate the same level of success across its entire portfolio.

Source: fintechfutures.com

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MAS launches transformative platform to combat money laundering

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The MAS has unveiled Cosmic, an acronym for Collaborative Sharing of Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing Information and Cases, a new money laundering platform.

According to Business Times, launched on April 1, Cosmic stands out as the first centralised digital platform dedicated to combating money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing on a worldwide scale. This move follows the enactment of the Financial Services and Markets (Amendment) Act 2023, which, along with its subsidiary legislation, commenced on the same day to provide a solid legal foundation and safeguards for information sharing among financial institutions (FIs).

Cosmic enables participating FIs to exchange customer information when certain “red flags” indicate potential suspicious activities. The platform’s introduction is a testament to MAS’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of the financial sector, mandating participants to establish stringent policies and operational safeguards to maintain the confidentiality of the shared information. This strategic approach allows for the efficient exchange of intelligence on potential criminal activities while protecting legitimate customers.

Significantly, Cosmic was co-developed by MAS and six leading commercial banks in Singapore—OCBC, UOB, DBS, Citibank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered—which will serve as participant FIs during its initial phase. The initiative emphasizes voluntary information sharing focused on addressing key financial crime risks within the commercial banking sector, such as the misuse of legal persons, trade finance, and proliferation financing.

Loo Siew Yee, assistant managing director for policy, payments, and financial crime at MAS, highlighted that Cosmic enhances the existing collaboration between the industry and law enforcement authorities, fortifying Singapore’s reputation as a well-regulated and trusted financial hub. Similarly, Pua Xiao Wei of Citi Singapore and Loretta Yuen of OCBC have expressed their institutions’ support for Cosmic, noting its potential to ramp up anti-money laundering efforts and its significance as a development in the banking sector’s ability to combat financial crimes efficiently. DBS’ Lam Chee Kin also praised Cosmic as a “game changer,” emphasizing the careful balance between combating financial crime and ensuring legitimate customers’ access to financial services.

Source: fintech.global

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