Daily Dispatches - ABN Amro plans build-out of Asia commodities team

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ABN Amro, the state-owned Dutch bank, is planning new hires for its commodities team in Asia in 2014, reports Bloomberg.

The bank, which has been expanding its international footprint, sees significant opportunity to grow its trade finance business as China increases consumption of energy and metals.

The head of the Singapore commodities team says that the planned increase in Asia "will be toward the high end of single digits in percentage terms". The Asia staff currently comprise about a quarter of the global 250-strong commodity team.

More bribery woes for Deutsche Bank in Asia

Hot on the heels of news of the arrest of a Deutsche Bank employee last week in Japan comes news that a former Deutsche Bank managing director in Hong Kong has been sentenced to seven years in prison for accepting illegal bribes in return for investment tips.

The Financial Times reports that Ma Sin-chi has also been ordered to pay HK$28.4 million (US$3.7 million) in “restitution” to Deutsche Bank. The amount is equal to the figure he accepted in bribes.

The offending investor was also sentenced to seven years in prison for paying Ma bribes in return for his insight into the warrants market.

Aussie big four expensive but still attractive

A new research report from UBS says that shares in the big four Australian banks are among the most expensive in the world but remain attractive because of high dividends.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted the UBS report that says Australia's banks will rank below those in the United States and Britain in their appeal to international investors over the coming year, but ahead of those in emerging countries such as Brazil and India. 

"Although the earnings growth outlook is subdued, earnings risk is relatively low, provided there are no systemic shocks.

China turns spotlight on financial status of bankers' relatives

China's regulators are putting the families of bankers at mainland institutions under scrutiny to crack down on corruption, says the South China Morning Post.  

People will not be qualified to become board directors or senior executives of financial institutions if they or their spouse have “a relatively large amount” of overdue debts, according to new rules for senior executives in the mainland’s banks, trust firms and asset management companies.

The new regulations take effect later this month.

New Chinese proposal for domestic banks may damage foreign players 

And still in China, foreign banks are worried that draft legislation aimed at cracking down on shadow banking will have a significantly negative impact on foreign banks, whose lines of funding will be cut off by the new rules to limit off-balance sheet lending.

If the new rules were to go into force as currently drafted, international banks would lose a critical source of funding and revenue for their operations, foreign bankers told the Financial Times.