Washington, D.C. — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has fined 19 broker-dealers a total of $2.8 million for substantially overstating their advertised trade volume to three private service providers.
FINRA compared the firms' advertised trade volume in selected securities with the firms' executed trade volume for the same securities in August 2006 and found substantial overstatements for each firm in one or more of the securities reviewed. FINRA also found that, prior to September 2006, all of the firms lacked an adequate supervisory system and procedures for communicating trade volume to such services.
The firms' overstated trade volumes were made available to market participants by the service providers. The service providers also used the firms' inaccurate advertised trade volumes to compile rankings and reports, including reports that rank the most active broker-dealers by security.
"Consistent with the obligation to report accurate trades to FINRA, when firms provide their trade volume to third party vendors for dissemination to market participants, it is critically important that firms take appropriate steps to ensure that their advertised trade volume is accurate" said Thomas Gira, FINRA Executive Vice President and Head of the Department of Market Regulation. In September 2006, FINRA published Notice to Members 06-50 to remind broker-dealers of that obligation.
In the actions announced today, eight firms were fined $200,000 each (Broadpoint Capital, Inc., CIBC World Markets Corp., Lehman Brothers, Inc., Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., Needham & Company, LLC, Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc., Thomas Weisel Partners, LLC and UBS Securities, LLC). Six firms were fined $150,000 each (Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc., BMO Capital Markets Corp., Cowen and Company, LLC, Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc., Leerink Swann & Company, Inc. and RBC Capital Markets Corp.). Four firms were fined $50,000 each (Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co., Inc., Jefferies & Company, Inc., JMP Securities, LLC and Pacific Crest Securities, Inc.).
The fine for one firm, Piper Jaffray & Co., was reduced to $100,000 because the firm conducted its own extensive internal investigation and then voluntarily provided the results to FINRA.
In concluding these settlements, the 19 firms neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.
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 2007, members of the public used this service to conduct 6.7 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. Created in 2007 through the consolidation of NASD and NYSE Member Regulation, 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 and enforcing 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 registered firms. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.finra.org.
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