UBS to Pay $19.5 Million Over Hedging Own FX Index

SEC: UBS employees were engaging in practices that had or could have had a negative impact on the price inputs

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced today that UBS AG has agreed to pay $19.5 million to settle charges that it made false or misleading statements to U.S. investors in structured notes linked to a proprietary FX trading strategy.

UBS agreed to settle the SEC’s charges that it misled investors in structured notes tied to the V10 Currency Index with Volatility Cap. The regulator claims that the bank falsely stated that the investment relied on a “transparent” strategy using “market prices” to calculate the instruments underlying the index, when in fact undisclosed hedging trades by UBS reduced the index price by about five percent.

“This first-of-its-kind case involving misstatements and omissions by a structured notes issuer shows that the SEC continues its commitment to pursue wrongdoing across the securities industry in order to better protect investors,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White. “It is critical that large global financial institutions have and implement policies and procedures designed to ensure that all facts relevant to investors are made known to individuals responsible for disclosures.”

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Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, UBS agreed to cease and desist from committing or causing any similar future violations, to pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest of $11.5 million, to distribute $5.5 million of the disgorgement funds to V10 investors to cover the total amount of investor losses, and to pay a civil monetary penalty of $8 million.

“This case demonstrates the importance of being truthful in offering materials to be used in the offer and sale of structured notes to retail investors,” said Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “We will remain focused on protecting investors who are not in a position to protect themselves by virtue of their limited access to information, the complexity of the product, or both.”

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