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Regulatory Violations

This archive displays posts tagged as relevant to violations of rules and regulations government the financial markets and its participants. You may also be interested in the following pages:

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May 12, 2021

Registered broker-dealer GWFS Equities Inc. will pay a penalty of $1.5 million to settle allegations that it failed to respond appropriately when it detected external bad actors gaining, or attempting to gain, access to the retirement accounts of participants in the employer-sponsored retirement plans it serviced, including through the use of improperly obtained electronic login information, user names, email addresses, and passwords. There was no allegation that this personal identifying information was disclosed in a breach of GWFS systems. However, the bad actors used this information to request distributions from plan participant accounts. While GWFS detected and blocked many of these attempts, the SEC charged that GWFS failed to file suspicious activity reports, or filed incomplete SARs, with respect to the account takeovers. SEC

April 29, 2021

Following a self-disclosure, software company SAP SE will pay penalties totaling over $8 million and disgorge over $5 million to resolve claims that it violated Export Administration Regulations and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. Between 2010 and 2017, SAP and its partners and subsidiaries released U.S-origin software to users located in Iran and permitted Iranian users to access U.S.-based cloud services from Iran.  In both cases, SAP executives were aware of the issues but did not take steps to remedy or stop them.  SAP also entered into a non-prosecution agreement setting forth specific compliance procedures.  DOJ; USAO Mass; OFAC; Commerce

March 4, 2021

Sohrab Sharma, a co-founder of Centra Tech, which claimed to offer products including a debit card that would allow users to make retail purchases using cryptocurrency, has been sentenced to eight years in prison following his guilty plea to charges arising from Centra’s fraudulent representations to participants in its unregistered initial coin offering of “Centra Tokens” or “CTR tokens,” which raised more than $25 million from victims.  Sharma and his co-defendants falsely claimed that Centra Tech had an experienced executive team, agreements with card issuers, and licenses to operate in 38 states when, in fact, Centra Tech had none of these things.  USAO SDNY

February 12, 2021

Registered investment advisor and broker-dealer Winslow, Evans & Crocker, Inc. will pay $1.9 million in disgorgement, interest, and penalties to resolve allegations regarding its mutual fund share class and cash sweep selection practices.  Winslow allegedly recommended mutual fund share classes and money market funds to its customers without adequately disclosing that it received 12b-1 fees and revenue-sharing payments in connection with those shares and funds, when lower-cost share classes and options were available.  SEC

December 9, 2020

ICE Data Pricing & Reference Data LLC agreed to pay $8 million to resolve charges that between 2015 and 2020 it failed to take adequate steps to ensure the accuracy of securities pricing data it supplied to clients, including by relying on single broker quotes which did not reasonably reflect the value of certain securities.  This conduct affected the prices ICE Data PRD provided for more than 40,000 fixed-income securities. SEC

Sunshine State Local Elections Shine Light on How Dark Shell Company Data Can Be

Posted  11/18/20
By Sarah “Poppy” Alexander
top-secret-seal
Amidst the ongoing saga of the US national elections, Florida local elections may not have made much of a ripple.  But one small scandal in the Sunshine State reveals a lot about the ongoing problem the US has with shell corporations and their hidden ownership structures. The story is convoluted, as most shell company stories are.  A political donor, Proclivity, who had never donated money in Florida before,...

October 21, 2020

Cryptocurrency issuer Kik Interactive Inc. will pay a $5 million penalty in a consent judgment resolving claims by the SEC that Kik’s unregistered offering of digital “Kin” tokens in 2017 violated U.S. securities laws.  The consent judgment finds that Kin tokens were investment contracts and the offering did not qualify for any exemption from registration requirements.  Kik sold the tokens through both public and private sales; the court found that the sales were a single integrated offering.   SEC

October 15, 2020

Energy company Andeavor LLC will pay a $20 million penalty to resolve allegations that, while the company was in merger discussions with Marathon Petroleum  Corp. in 2018, it implemented a stock buyback plan without taking adequate compliance steps, including an evaluation of whether the company was in possession of material non-public information about corporate developments.  The Marathon merger, which valued Andeavor at over $150 per share, was announced one month after Andeavor completed the buyback at an average price of $97 per share.  SEC

September 30, 2020

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC will pay a total of $10 million in civil monetary penalties to the SEC and CFTC.  In an agreement with the SEC, the company will pay a $5 million civil monetary penalty arising from charges that the firm violated the short sale procedures of Regulation SHO. Specifically, Morgan Stanley improperly used “long” and “short” aggregation units when it hedged synthetic exposure to swaps by purchasing or selling the securities referenced in the swaps.  The aggregation units were not independent and did not have separate trading strategies.  As a result, Morgan Stanley should have netted the long and short positions of both units together or across the entire broker-dealer and marked the orders as long or short based on that netting. The CFTC, which also imposed a $5 million penalty, charged that Morgan Stanley failed to comply with swap data reporting obligations, inaccurately reporting swap data for approximately three million swaps. SEC; CFTC

September 28, 2020

Citibank N.A. and its related entities Citigroup Energy Inc. and Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. will pay a $4.5 million penalty for maintaining an inadequate telephone audio recording and preservation system.  According to the charges, Citibank internal reporting described the audio preservation system as having a flaw that was a “ticking time bomb” that could lead to the deletion of audio recordings.  When Citibank was required to produce recordings in response to a CFTC subpoena, the company disclosed that millions of audio files for 982 users had been deleted as a result of the flaw.  CFTC
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