London marine insurers widen Middle East threat zone after ship attacks

London’s marine insurance market has extended the list of waters deemed high risk to include Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf after ship attacks off Fujairah. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 May 2019

London marine insurers widen Middle East threat zone after ship attacks

  • The London insurance market’s Joint War Committee said in a statement that the additions cover areas of perceived enhanced risk for marine insurers and reflected enhanced regional risk
  • The Joint War Committee also added adjacent waters around the Gulf of Oman to its high risk list

LONDON: London’s marine insurance market has extended the list of waters deemed high risk to include Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf after ship attacks off Fujairah, officials said on Friday, in a move that could push up premiums.
The London insurance market’s Joint War Committee said in a statement that the additions cover areas of perceived enhanced risk for marine insurers and reflected enhanced regional risk.
“The situation will be kept under close review,” said the Joint War Committee, whose guidance influences decisions by underwriters on insurance premiums.
Four tankers, comprising Saudi Arabian, UAE and Norwegian-flagged ships, were attacked on Sunday off Fujairah. No one has claimed responsibility for the incident.
The attacks took place against a backdrop of US-Iranian tension following Washington’s decision this month to try to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero and beef up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it called Iranian threats.
Iran accuses Washington of stoking tensions and had denied it had any role in the attacks.
The Joint War Committee, made up of syndicate members from the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) and representatives from the London insurance company market, normally meets every quarter to review areas it considers high risk for merchant vessels and prone to war, terrorism, piracy and related perils.
The Joint War Committee, which met on Thursday after developments in the Middle East ahead of Friday’s decision, also added adjacent waters around the Gulf of Oman to its high risk list. The last update to the list was in June 2018.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway have launched an investigation and have described the attacks as deliberate. They have not blamed anyone.
“Very little information is to hand about the explosions at Fujairah anchorage on May 12 and the circumstances and methods employed remain unclear,” the Joint War Committee said in further comments.
“There is no doubt that considerable damage was done and there will be significant claims,” it added.
The London marine insurance market plays an influential role in the global marine insurance industry.
A confidential Norwegian insurers’ report seen by Reuters concluded that Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were “highly likely” to have facilitated the attacks on the tankers.
Iran has said the attacks on the tankers were a cause for concern and has called for an investigation.
Iran said on Friday it could “easily” hit US warships in the Gulf, the latest verbal broadside in the spat between Washington and Tehran.


UBS fined $51 million by Hong Kong regulator for overcharging clients

Updated 11 November 2019

UBS fined $51 million by Hong Kong regulator for overcharging clients

  • Hong Kong regulator’s investigation exposed ‘serious systemic internal control failures’ at the bank
  • In March, the Securities and Futures Commission banned UBS from leading initial public offerings in Hong Kong for a year

HONG KONG: Swiss bank UBS was fined HK$400 million ($51.09 million) by Hong Kong’s securities regulator for overcharging up to 5,000 clients for nearly a decade, the watchdog said on Monday.
The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said in a statement that an investigation found UBS had overcharged clients on ‘post-trade spread increases’ and charges in excess of standard disclosures and rates between 2008 and 2017.
THE SFC said the investigation exposed ‘serious systemic internal control failures’ at the bank. UBS had failed to disclose conflicts of interests and had overcharged some clients in ‘opaque’ trades, it said.
The overcharging affected 5000 Hong Kong managed client accounts in about 28,700 transactions, it said.
UBS has also agreed to repay the clients HK$200 million, the SFC said.
The regulator said the over-charging occurred in the bank’s wealth management division on bond and structured notes transactions.
UBS was found to have increased the spread charged after the execution of a trade without the clients’ knowledge, it said.
In the statement, the SFC said UBS was also found to have falsified some account statements which were issued to financial intermediaries who were authorized to trade for the clients to “conceal the overcharges.”
UBS said the issues were ‘self-reported’ to the SFC and the results found were against the bank’s standard practice.
“The relevant conduct predominantly relates to limit orders of certain debt securities and structured note transactions, which account for a very small percentage of the bank’s order processing system,” the bank said in a statement.
SFC chief executive Ashley Alder said while each “overcharge represented a fraction of each trade” the bank’s “misconduct involved decisions and a pervasive abuse of trust resulting in significant additional revenue for UBS to which it was not entitled.”
In March, the SFC banned UBS from leading initial public offerings in Hong Kong for a year after it found the bank, and some of its rivals, had failed to carry out sufficient due diligence on a number of deals.
UBS was fined HK$375 million while Morgan Stanley was fined HK$224 million, Merrill Lynch HK$128 million and Standard Chartered (StanChart) HK$59.7 million, all for failures when sponsoring, or leading, public market floats.