U.S. regulators punished 16 financial institutions, including Barclays (BARC.L), Citigroup, Bank of America, Credit Suisse (CSGN.S), Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and UBS (UBSG.S), for a total of $1.8 billion on Tuesday for employees’ use of personal devices and applications to discuss transactions.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) & the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have made history with this broad industry investigation, which was originally reported last year and then made public by numerous lenders. It is one of their largest collective resolutions.
The authorities claimed that from January 2018 to September 2021, employees of the banks habitually interacted with co-workers, clients, as well as other third-party advisers about business-related issues like debt and equity deals using personal mobile applications like WhatsApp and text messages.
Most of those personal chats were not preserved by the institutions, in violation of federal regulations requiring broker-dealers plus other financial organisations to maintain business correspondence.
The authorities claimed that this made it more difficult for them to monitor the financial markets, guarantee adherence to important regulations, and acquire information for unrelated investigations.
UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Citi spokespeople all expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of the situation. Credit Suisse, Barclays, Nomura, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America all declined to comment.
The actions taken today highlight how crucial recordkeeping standards are and how sacred they are, both regarding the firms concerned and the magnitude of the fines imposed.
The books and records of a company must be accessible if there are accusations of impropriety or misconduct, according to Gurbir Grewal, director of the Division of Enforcement from SEC.
According to the SEC, personnel at all levels, including both senior and junior financiers and traders, were implicated in the failures, which affected all 16 organisations.
Although Bank of America & Nomura did not explicitly confirm or deny all of the CFTC’s probe findings, the companies’ admission of the facts and admission that they broke the law was a significant triumph for the agencies, it added.
The SEC claimed the institutions that cooperated with the inquiry have started implementing changes to their compliance rules and processes.
The use of personal devices at work has always been a problem for Wall Street banks, which frequently forbids them entirely from trading floors. However, during the epidemic, as more traders and bankers worked from home, the issue grew acute.
Staff members utilised personal applications to avoid scrutiny, according to Christy Goldsmith Romero— the CFTC Commissioner, often at the request of senior executives who were aware of their violations of bank standards but sought to hide trade interactions.
In one instance detailed by her office, employees of Bank of America used WhatsApp, with one trader stating that they frequently “erase convos.”
The leader of a trading desk consistently instructed traders to utilise Signal and delete messages from personal devices, even throughout the CFTC investigation.
Another instance involved a Nomura trader who, after receiving a request to preserve data from the CFTC, deleted messages that contained assertions about trading that were incriminating, according to her office.
The age of evasive communications methods is ended, Goldsmith Romero stated in a statement, so those wishing to engage in U.S. financial market are on notice.
Meanwhile, on the flip side of things, the euro dropped once more to $0.9552, returning to the two-decade low set last week of $0.9528.
After increasing for eight straight sessions, the dollar also reached a new high against the Chinese yuan on foreign exchange markets at 7.2387.
The rising dollar’s pressure on emerging-market currencies raises the possibility that their economies will have to keep raising interest rates, which would be detrimental to growth.
The increase in the dollar’s value and bond yields has also hurt gold, which was trading around $1,624 an ounce after falling to levels last seen in April 2020.
Concerns about demand and a strong dollar countered support from U.S. output cuts brought on by Hurricane Ian, and oil prices fell once more.
U.S. crude shed 1.10 cents to $77.40 each barrel and Brent dropped $1.17 to $85.03 per barrel.