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Large Wall Street firms fined $1.8 bn in US over lax recordkeeping

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The SEC says an investigation uncovered "pervasive off-channel communications" involving a range of senior and junior investment bankers and traders at multiple companies./AFP
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Sep 28, 2022 - 07:56 AM

NEW YORK — Large Wall Street firms agreed to pay $1.8 billion in fines over failures to keep electronic records such as text messages between employees on personal mobile phones, US authorities announced Tuesday.

Barclays, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs were among the firms that agreed to fines over “longstanding failures” to maintain and preserve electronic communications that must be available to regulators in the course of oversight, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in a statement.

The SEC announced a total of $1.1 billion in fines on 16 institutions in all. The 16 firms listed included some companies such as Morgan Stanley with affiliated firms also covered by the agreement.

In a parallel action, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced it reached settlements totaling $710 million from the same group of financial institutions over the same offenses.

“Finance, ultimately, depends on trust. By failing to honor their recordkeeping and books-and-records obligations, the market participants we have charged today have failed to maintain that trust,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement. “Since the 1930s, such recordkeeping has been vital to preserve market integrity.

“As technology changes, it’s even more important that registrants appropriately conduct their communications about business matters within only official channels, and they must maintain and preserve those communications.”

An SEC investigation uncovered “pervasive off-channel communications” involving a range of senior and junior investment bankers and traders — omissions that “likely” deprived it of communications in agency probes, it said.

Bank of America was fined a total of $225 million under the two settlements.

Financial giants agreeing to $200 million in settlements were Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS.

Nomura, Jefferies and  Cantor Fitzgerald will pay respectively $100, $80 and $16 million

The SEC in December 2021 fined JPMorgan Chase $125 million for the offense, spurring an industry-wide regulatory crackdown on poor recordkeeping, the SEC said.

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