Merrill Lynch Pays $60,000 Fine for Inappropriate Order Limits in Australia

MLAF set inappropriate order limits in its upstream and downstream systems, undetected for 6 years.

Yesterday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission published its market integrity report in which it mentioned that the Markets Disciplinary Panel (MDP), the arm of ASIC that issues infringement notices, had issued eight such notices to different entities.

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As part of that, ASIC reported today that Merrill Lynch (Australia) Futures had paid a penalty of $48,000 (AUD 60,000) to comply with an issued notice.

ASIC has a set of rules termed the ASIC Market Integrity Rules (ASX 24 Market) 2010 which requires that market participants have correct and practical risk management processes in place, which includes having the correct order limits and maximum price change limits.

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But the notice revealed that during the period from October 2010 to June 2016, MLAF did not have proper limits set in place in its pathways. MLAF connects to the ASX 24 market through 7 pathways.

During the said period, there were 4 pathways for which the limits set at the downstream terminals and the upstream order systems were found to be the market defaults. The market default level was not the appropriate limit level for MLAF or its clients .

Self Review and Reporting

In 2016, MLAF conducted a review through which these errors were found, and it then took appropriate action to set these limits to the correct levels. But the notice said that it had been careless for more than 6 years about these inappropriate levels and hence deemed it to be in violation of the ASX 24 Market Integrity Rules.

Each violation carries a fine of $40,000 (AUD 50,000), but as the full fine was deemed excessive punishment, the overall amount was rounded down to $48,000 (AUD 60,000).

The fact that MLAF launched its own review, found the errors on its own and self-reported the findings was taken into account when deciding on the lower fine and lack of further action.

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