Iraqi oil minister says OPEC deal will help to stabilize oil market

Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban speaks to the media at the ministry's headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq October 31, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 July 2019

Iraqi oil minister says OPEC deal will help to stabilize oil market

  • Baghdad studies contingency plans to deal with possible disruption, including new export routes

BAGHDAD: An agreement between OPEC and its allies to extend oil output cuts until the end of March 2020 will lower inventories, help stabilise the market and address price volatility, Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Wednesday.
Asked about OPEC’s position on prices, Ghadhban said the general view was that $70 per barrel or higher was acceptable, adding that the producer group sought prices that were fair to consumers and producers alike. Brent oil is currently near $65.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers led by Russia agreed earlier this month to prolong oil output cuts, seeking to prop up the price of crude as the global economy weakens and U.S. production soars.
Iraq hopes navigation in the Strait of Hormuz will remain open and uninterrupted, said Ghadhban, who was speaking on the sidelines of an energy conference in Baghdad.
“No fewer than 18 million barrels pass through the strait every day ... the region needs to remain stable,” he said.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday that any disruption to oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz would be a “major obstacle” for the economy of Iraq, which has few oil export outlets.
The Iraqi government was studying contingency plans to deal with possible disruption, including alternative routes for oil exports, Abdul Mahdi said.
A vital shipping route linking Middle East oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond, the Strait of Hormuz has been at the heart of regional tensions for decades.
Recent months have seen a bout of instability in the region, with six tankers attacked since May amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington.

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Strait of Hormuz

The Strait of Hormuz is a vital shipping route linking Middle East oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond.


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.