Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Toronto
Editing by Denny Thomas, Jane Merriman, Susan Fenton, Will Dunham and Diane Craft
TORONTO, Sept 17 (Reuters) – Bank of Montreal (BMO) (BMO.TO) is winding down its indirect retail auto finance business and shifting focus to other areas in a move that will result in an unspecified number of job losses, Canada’s third-largest bank said.
The bank, which announced the move on Saturday, has conducted this business in Canada and the United States. The move comes after BMO’s overall bad debt provisions rose to C$492 million, compared with C$136 million a year earlier, for the quarter ended July 31 in a sign of growing stress consumers face from a rapid rise in borrowing costs.
Under the indirect retail auto finance business, the bank works with car dealerships to arrange financing for buyers, who make monthly payments to the lender.
“By winding down the indirect retail auto finance business, we have the ability to focus our resources on areas where we believe our competitive positioning is strongest,” BMO said in a statement to Reuters.
The bank is working closely with employees who will be affected by job cuts to provide support, it said.
In a letter sent to car dealers and seen by Reuters, the head of the business Paul Hunsley said the termination of the dealer agreement would be effective as of Sept. 15, but the bank would fund all contracts submitted and approved prior to the date.
At the end of July, BMO’s consumer installment and other personal loan portfolio stood at C$104 billion, and included C$54.7 billion in home equity loans.
The remaining loans in this portfolio are primarily auto loans, but also include other loans, including loans for boats, recreational vehicles and motorcycles, Edward Jones analyst James Shanahan said.
The Bank of Canada’s data has shown that delinquency rates for vehicle loans are now higher than they were before the pandemic, highlighting the strain on consumers’ wallets as they also struggle to repay their mortgages in a high interest rate environment.
A rapid rise in interest rates is slowing the Canadian economy, and banks are setting aside more funds to deal with an expected pick up in bad loans.
BMO has been turning to the United States for new avenues of growth as markets remain saturated in Canada, spending $16.3 billion to acquire Bank of the West this year and expand in 32 states in the western United States including California.
The United States now accounts for more than two-thirds of BMO’s overall profits.
Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Toronto
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
More TTC riders have full cellular service as Rogers allows BCE, Telus network access
TTC riders in Toronto’s downtown core now have access to 5G service.
In a Monday media release, representatives for Rogers said customers of all major Canadian wireless companies can connect to 5G to talk, text, and stream on Toronto’s subway system.
Service extends to all stations and tunnels in the downtown U (between Bloor-Yonge and Spadina, as well as Dupont Station), as well as in 13 stations between Keele and Castle Frank, plus the tunnels between St. George and Yonge stations.
The announcement comes a day earlier than anticipated, as the federal deadline given to Rogers to implement the extended service for all mobile customers was originally slated for Tuesday.
Rogers customers have had 5G connection in the aforementioned stations and tunnels since August, a decision that sparked ire in the telecommunications space, particularly from rivals Telus and Bell.
“Our dedicated team of technologists designed and introduced an immediate solution that added capacity, so Bell and Telus could join the network,” Ron McKenzie, chief technology and information officer for Rogers, said.
“For over 10 years, subway riders have been without mobile phone services and the Rogers team is pleased to step up and make 5G a reality for all riders today.”
In a statement shared with CP24, representatives for Telus said, “we are pleased to launch service for all our customers in connected TTC subway tunnels and stations. Now, TELUS customers can browse the Internet, talk and text, staying connected and safe on Toronto transit. We’ll be working hard to expand the number of stations and tunnels covered in the coming months.”
“We would like to thank Minister Champagne for his leadership in ensuring that all wireless carriers have the ability to serve their customers in Toronto’s subway system, and that Rogers can no longer delay the deployment of wireless service for all TTC riders regardless of their choice of carrier,” representatives for Bell shared in an afternoon statement.
“Bell looks forward to working collaboratively with our partners to build out the remainder of the TTC’s wireless network.”
Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow responded to today’s news in a tweet.
“Happy to hear that all 3 major telecoms have unrolled service to downtown stations,” she wrote.
“The work continues to expand service to the rest of the TTC subway system. François-Philippe Champagne and I will work to make sure it happens quickly.”
CP24 and CTV News Toronto are owned by Bell Media.
Laurentian Bank CEO ousted as systems crash sparks major shakeup
TORONTO — A week after a system crash blacked out much of the services offered by Laurentian Bank (TSX:LB), the financial institution announced on Monday the departures of president and CEO Rania Llewellyn and board of directors chair Michael Mueller.
The bank said Monday that Eric Provost, most recently head of personal and commercial banking, has moved into the role of president and chief executive with immediate effect.
Montreal-based Laurentian also said director Michael Boychuk has been appointed chair of its board of directors, replacing Mueller, who resigned from the board.
The bank said on Monday that it had restored most services, but that access might still be slow or intermittent because of the number of people trying to access services. It said it was also still working to restore some functions.
In a letter to customers, Provost said the bank would be reversing monthly service fees for September, and opening some branches on Monday despite the statutory federal holiday as the bank tries to resolve the issues.
“We understand how precious your trust is, and we recognize that we have not delivered on it,” said Provost in the letter.
“My sincerest apologies for the inconvenience this outage may have caused you, your family, and your company.”
The bank said it would also work with clients who may have missed payments because of the outage, including help if someone’s credit score was affected because they couldn’t access their money.
Fraud trial for CEO of collapsed crypto exchange FTX set to begin on Tuesday
For a while, Sam Bankman-Fried tried to convince politicians and the public that he was the next J.P. Morgan. Now, he has to convince a jury that he wasn’t, in reality, the next Bernie Madoff.
The trial of Bankman-Fried, the founder of the failed cryptocurrency brokerage FTX, will begin Tuesday with jury selection. Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York are expected to lay out a case against Bankman-Fried that alleges he stole billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits and used the money to fund his hedge fund, buy real estate, and make millions of dollars of illegal campaign donations to Democrats and Republicans in an attempt to buy influence over cryptocurrency regulation in Washington.
While the case will involve the complicated world of cryptocurrencies, prosecutors are expected to try to boil it down to the simplest of terms for jurors: Bankman-Fried took money from customers and used it in ways he wasn’t supposed to.
“Prosecutors are going to say, ‘look at where the money went and how it was spent,'” said Michael Zweiback, co-founder of the law firm Zweiback, Fiset & Zalduendo LLP, and a former federal prosecutor. “This case is less about the complicated investments and all about garden-variety fraud.”
From humble beginnings to having billions on paper
Before FTX collapsed and filed for bankruptcy last November, Bankman-Fried was one of the most powerful people in the cryptocurrency industry. “SBF” had an estimated net worth of $32 billion US last year, at least on paper. He interacted with former presidents, politicians on both sides of the aisle, celebrities, and CEOs. When smaller crypto firms started imploding in early 2022, Bankman-Fried told the public he would help prop up the market, prompting the comparisons with J.P. Morgan.
The 31-year-old Bankman-Fried founded FTX in 2019, and it grew rapidly. The son of Stanford University professors, who was known to play the video game League of Legends during meetings, Bankman-Fried attracted investments from the highest echelons of Silicon Valley. FTX quickly became the second-largest crypto brokerage behind Binance.
Bankman-Fried and his inner circle of executives ran their then-growing crypto empire from The Bahamas, out of the luxury apartment complex Albany, where celebrities like Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake have vacation homes.
FTX had effectively two lines of business: a brokerage where customers could deposit, buy, and sell cryptocurrency assets on the FTX platform, and an affiliated hedge fund known as Alameda Research, which took highly speculative positions in various cryptocurrency investments.
As Alameda started to pile up losses during last year’s cryptocurrency market declines, prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried directed funds to be moved from FTX’s customer accounts to Alameda to plug holes in the hedge fund’s balance sheet.
The house of cards that Bankman and his lieutenants built came crashing down in early November, when reports surfaced about the condition of Alameda’s balance sheet. Spooked investors, who had already seen several crypto firms collapse during the year, quickly pulled their money out of FTX and within days the firm was bankrupt.
John Ray III, the restructuring expert who was tasked with cleaning up FTX in bankruptcy, described the conditions inside of FTX as worse than Enron, long considered the benchmark for corporate malfeasance in popular culture.
Bankman-Fried is expected come face-to-face with his former lieutenants at FTX for the first time since its collapse.
Several of them have agreed to plead guilty to lesser crimes in exchange for testifying against him. This includes Caroline Ellison, who was the CEO of Alameda and Bankman-Fried’s off-and-on girlfriend, as well as FTX co-founder Gary Wang.
Ryan Salame, another top executive at FTX, pleaded guilty on Sept. 7 to making illegal campaign contributions to Republicans on behalf of Bankman-Fried, who was publicly making contributions to Democrats. It is not known whether Salame will testify against Bankman-Fried.
Ellison is expected to be the prosecution’s central witness. Prosecutors are likely to count on her to demonstrate that the collapse of FTX was not due to a few mistakes, as Bankman-Fried alleges, but to fraud. She has previously said in a statement through her lawyers that she knew funnelling FTX customers’ money into Alameda was wrong.
“I expect the government is going to be able to show that Bankman-Fried knew what he was doing was wrong, and here are the people in the room who can corroborate that story,” said Christine Adams, a former federal prosecutor and a partner at Adams, Duerk & Kamenstein.
The defence is expected to argue that while Bankman-Fried made some mistakes, the mistakes do not amount to fraud and FTX was just the latest casualty in the broad collapse of the cryptocurrency market last year. Until he had his computer privileges taken away by the presiding judge in the case, Bankman-Fried himself spent months reaching out to reporters and posting on social media to explain his actions.
“Look, I screwed up,” he said in a remote interview with The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin late last year.
Bankman-Fried was extradited from The Bahamas to New York in December.
Before his bail was revoked, Bankman-Fried had been permitted to live with his parents in their Palo Alto, Calif., home with strict rules limiting his access to electronic devices. Bankman-Fried was ordered to be jailed after Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said there was probable cause to believe he was trying to tamper with potential witnesses, including Ellison, in the case.
Crypto winter underway
Broadly, the crypto industry has still not recovered since FTX’s collapse. The prices of Ethereum and Bitcoin, the two most widely used cryptocurrencies, are still down two-thirds from where they were a year ago and the volume of trading in crypto is half what it was. The market for NFTs, artificially scarce digital objects meant to create unique digital versions of memorabilia or photographs, has all but evaporated. Roughly 3,000 NFTs trade hands daily now, compared to more than 40,000 a day a year ago, according to NonFungible.com.
Even Bankman-Fried’s former competitors are facing their own legal scrutiny. This summer the Securities and Exchange Commission brought charges against Binance and its founder Changpeng Zhao similar to the allegations against FTX, including commingling of customer funds with the firm’s investments. Coinbase, the publicly traded crypto exchange, has also been charged by the SEC with securities violations.
Howard Anglin: The Conservatives are cruising and the media can't hide its disappointment – The Hub
As LeBron James enters Year 21, the theme of Lakers media day was passing the torch and sharing the load
The Growing Popularity of Online Casino Apps in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Search for life on Mars accelerates as new bodies of water found below planet’s surface
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Economy24 hours ago
5 economic shocks are about to hit the U.S. all at the same time: ‘There are storm clouds out there forming that we’re all seeing and watching—fearfully’
Business19 hours ago
Metro Vancouver workers poised to strike as soon as Monday, union says
News22 hours ago
Amid India-Canada row, Elon Musk accuses Canadian PM Justin Trudeau of ‘crushing free speech’; here’s why
Real eState21 hours ago
Swedish Home Prices Fall Again in September, Down 13% From Peak
Business16 hours ago
Alleged mortgage fraud victims still not off the hook for payments after criminal charges laid
Art15 hours ago
One family’s battle to be reunited with art looted by the Nazis – CNN
Economy9 hours ago
Bill Ackman says the economy is starting to slow and the Fed is likely done hiking
Business18 hours ago
Ontario’s minimum wage increase impact upon workers