USA's SEC sues Wall Street companies over WhatsApp, etc.

News Desk

The USA's Securities and Exchange Commission has issued civil proceedings against eleven financial institutions for failing to make and preserve electronic communications.

The companies (the Commission, like so many regulators, mistakenly refers to them as "firms") are

Wells Fargo Securities, LLC together with Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC agreed to pay a USD125 million penalty;

BNP Paribas Securities Corp. and SG Americas Securities, LLC have each agreed to pay penalties of USD35 million;

BMO Capital Markets Corp. and Mizuho Securities USA LLC have each agreed to pay penalties of USD25 million;

Houlihan Lokey Capital, Inc. has agreed to pay a USD15 million penalty;

Moelis & Company LLC and Wedbush Securities Inc. have each agreed to pay penalties of USD10 million; and

SMBC Nikko Securities America, Inc. has agreed to pay a USD9 million penalty.

It's not the first case of its kind: in fact the Commission has brought 30 actions and ordered penalties in excess of USD1,500 million.

"The SEC’s investigation uncovered pervasive and longstanding “off-channel” communications at all 11 firms. As described in the SEC’s orders, the firms admitted that from at least 2019, their employees often communicated through various messaging platforms on their personal devices, including iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal, about the business of their employers. The firms did not maintain or preserve the substantial majority of these off-channel communications, in violation of the federal securities laws."

The Commission said "The failures involved employees at multiple levels of authority, including supervisors and senior executives."