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FINRA

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October, 25, 2011
Nancy Condon (202) 728-8379

 

UBS Securities LLC Action

 

FINRA Fines UBS Securities $12 Million for Regulation SHO Violations and Supervisory Failures

WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has fined UBS Securities LLC $12 million for violating Regulation SHO (Reg SHO) and failing to properly supervise short sales of securities. As a result of these violations, millions of short sale orders were mismarked and/or placed to the market without reasonable grounds to believe that the securities could be borrowed and delivered.

 

In a short sale, the seller sells a security it does not own. When it is time to deliver the security, the short seller either purchases or borrows the security in order to make the delivery. Reg SHO requires a broker-dealer to have reasonable grounds to believe that the security could be borrowed and available for delivery before accepting or effecting a short sale order. Requiring firms to obtain and document this "locate" information before the short sale occurs reduces the number of potential failures to deliver in equity securities. In addition, Reg SHO requires a broker-dealer to mark sales of equity securities as long or short.

 

FINRA found that UBS' Reg SHO supervisory system regarding locates and the marking of sale orders was significantly flawed and resulted in a systemic supervisory failure that contributed to serious Reg SHO failures across its equities trading business. First, FINRA found that UBS placed millions of short sale orders to the market without locates, including in securities that were known to be hard to borrow. These locate violations extended to numerous trading systems, desks, accounts and strategies, and impacted UBS' technology, operations, and supervisory systems and procedures. Second, FINRA found that UBS mismarked millions of sale orders in its trading systems. Many of these mismarked orders were short sales that were mismarked as "long," resulting in additional significant violations of Reg SHO's locate requirement. Third, FINRA found that UBS had significant deficiencies related to its aggregation units that may have contributed to additional significant order-marking and locate violations.

 

Brad Bennett, FINRA Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement, said, "Firms must ensure their trading and supervisory systems are designed to prevent the release of short sale orders without valid locates, and properly mark sale orders, in order to prevent potentially abusive naked short selling. The duration, scope and volume of UBS' locate and order-marking violations created a potential for harm to the integrity of the market."

 

As a result of its supervisory failures, many of UBS' violations were not detected or corrected until after FINRA's investigation caused UBS to conduct a substantive review of its systems and monitoring procedures for Reg SHO compliance. FINRA found that UBS' supervisory framework over its equities trading business was not reasonably designed to achieve compliance with the requirements of Reg SHO and other securities laws, rules and regulations until at least 2009.

 

In concluding this settlement, UBS neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.

 

FINRA's investigation was conducted by Jeanne R. Elmadany and Conway Lee under the supervision of Richard R. Best, Enforcement Chief Counsel.

 

Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA's BrokerCheck. FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2010, members of the public used this service to conduct 17.2 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999. Investors may find copies of this disciplinary action as well as other disciplinary documents in FINRA's Disciplinary Actions Online database.

 

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business - from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.