Clearstream Clearing and Settlement
Clearstream was created in January 2000 through the merger of Cedel International and Deutsche Börse Clearing. Its main functions are acting as International Central Securities Depository (ICSD), Clearstream also acts as the Central Securities Depository (CSD) for Germany and Clearing House for a number of securities. It is one of the biggest custodians and clearer of the eurobonds market.
Clearstream has been criticized for allowing banks to move money undetected and has been accused of involvements in a number of cases involving money laundering and tax evasion. Two notable cases have become known as the Clearstream Affair which started with the release of the book Révélation$ in 2001 by the investigative reporter Denis Robert and ex-Clearstream banker Ernest Backes and the Second Clearstream Affair which started in 2004 when anonymous denunciations was sent to magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke accusing a number of major French political figures of having received kickbacks.
Clearstream was formed in 1971 as CEDEL, specializing in the delivery and settlement eurobonds. It was created by a consortium of banks as a competitor
Clearstream’s customers are banks or financial institutions who have accounts with Clearstream which are used to settled and delivered eurobonds with their counterparts. No individual can open an account with Clearstream.
In 1996, Clearstream obtained its own banking license.
In January 2000 it became Clearstream through the merger of Cedel International and Deutsche Börse Clearing, a subsidiary of Deutsche Börse Group, which owns the Frankfurt Stock Exchange when it took a 50% shareholding.
In July 2002, Deutsche Boerse bought the remaining 50% of Clearstream International for 1.6 billion euros. In 2009 Clearstream contributed Earnings Before Interest and Taxes of €720 million to Deutsche Börse’s. It handled 102 million transactions, and was custodian of securities worth €10.3 trillion.
Settlement and custody
Clearstream often has been described as a bank for banks, as it practices what is called settlement and custody operations (“Plumbers and Visionaries, a history of settlement and custody in Europe”, Peter Norman). Basically, its duty is to record transactions between the accounts of different banks, and use that data to calculate the relative financial positions of banks with regard to each other. So a bank can just order a transaction between its own account and the other bank’s account, in lieu of less secure methods such as carrying a case full of currency or securities around on the street; the bank merely transmits an order to Clearstream to credit/debit one of its own accounts and the other bank’s account(s). This general system is in use between regular companies, governments, and banks around the world.
The purpose of International central securities depositories like clearstream is to facilitate money movements around the world, particularly by handling the resolution of sales of European stocks and bonds, in which market Clearstream is a major player, with an estimated 40% market share until May 2008.
Clearstream does not hold a monopoly in this market: Custodian banks (Bank of New York-Mellon] are competitors. ; Clearstream’s quasi-monopoly is demonstrated by this European Union statement declaring that “Clearstream Banking AG is an unavoidable trader partner.