The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States, said on Monday that it has fined the Deutsche Bank AG’s securities arm, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., $12.5 million over potential dissemination of confidential information over internal speakers commonly known as ‘squawk boxes.’
Despite multiple red flags, including internal warnings from the lender’s compliance department and internal risk assessments, the bank ignored for years establishing an adequate supervision over registered representatives’ access to hoots or their communications with customers regarding hoots. In addition, the supervision over internal audit findings and recommendations was inadequate, the Wall Street’s self-regulator further states.
Deutsche Bank neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings. As part of its settlement, the bank has agreed to implement enhancements to meet regulatory compliance requirements and provide a written certification that it has adopted and implemented supervisory systems and written procedures concerning hoots.
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The Frankfurt-based bank was aware that ‘hoots’ or ‘squawks’ involving research and trading might contain confidential, price-sensitive information, and that there was a risk that material non-public information could be communicated over them.
According to FINRA, Deutsche Bank failed to implement reasonable written policies, procedures and systems governing who should have access to the hoot information, how the employees should handle hoot information, and how supervisors should supervise employees to ensure compliance, and protection of confidential and material nonpublic information potentially communicated over the hoots.
Brad Bennett, FINRA’s Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement, said, “Recognizing and responding to red flags is the hallmark of proper supervision, particularly in areas involving confidential information.”
“Deutsche Bank’s disregard of years of red flags including internal audit findings, risk assessments and compliance recommendations was particularly egregious given the risk that material nonpublic information could be communicated over squawk boxes,” he added.