FINRA Fines BofA Securities $24 Million for Treasuries Spoofing and Related Supervisory Failures
Firm Engaged in 717 Instances of Spoofing Activity
WASHINGTON—FINRA announced today that it has fined BofA Securities, Inc. $24 million for engaging in more than 700 instances of spoofing through two former traders in U.S. Treasury secondary markets and related supervisory failures spanning more than six years.
“Spoofing undermines the transparency and integrity of the markets by distorting the true nature of supply and demand. Spoofing is especially detrimental in the U.S. Treasury securities market, given its status as a benchmark for countless financial instruments and transactions,” said Bill St. Louis, Executive Vice President and Head of Enforcement at FINRA. “This action sends a strong message that FINRA will aggressively pursue firms that engage in spoofing, including cross-product spoofing.”
Spoofing is a type of fraudulent trading that involves the use of non–bona fide orders (orders that the trader does not intend to have executed) to create a false appearance of market activity on one side of the market to induce other market participants to execute against bona fide orders entered on the opposite side of the market. Spoofing may deceive other market participants into trading at a time, price or quantity that they otherwise would not have.
From October 2014 through February 2021, BofA Securities, through a former supervisor and a former junior trader, engaged in 717 instances of spoofing in a U.S. Treasury security to induce opposite-side executions in the same Treasury security or a correlated Treasury futures contract.
From at least October 2014 through September 2022, BofA Securities failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system reasonably designed to detect spoofing in U.S. Treasury markets. BofA Securities did not have a supervisory system to detect spoofing in Treasuries until November 2015; until mid-2019, that system was deficient in that it was designed to detect spoofing by trading algorithms, not manual spoofing by its traders, like the 717 instances addressed in the settlement. In addition, until at least December 2020, BofA Securities’ surveillance did not capture orders its traders entered into certain systems provided by external venues. Lastly, BofA Securities did not supervise for potential cross-product spoofing in Treasuries through September 2022.
FINRA has discussed spoofing and related regulatory obligations in its Annual Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities letters and its Examination and Risk Monitoring Program Reports, including its most recent 2023 Exam Report.
In settling this matter, BofA Securities consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings, without admitting or denying the charges.
FINRA publishes disciplinary complaints, decisions and other information on its Disciplinary Actions Online database and publishes on its Monthly Disciplinary Actions page a summary of disciplinary actions against firms and individuals for violations of FINRA rules; federal securities laws, rules and regulations; and the rules of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.
FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry—brokerage firms doing business with the public in the U.S. FINRA, overseen by the SEC, writes rules, examines for and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and offers them education and training, and informs the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees. For more information, visit www.finra.org.