The Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against 16 financial companies for failing to properly maintain and preserve electronic communications, with the companies agreeing to pay a total of more than $81 million in civil penalties.
The regulator said employees of these companies used “off-channel” communications, like personal text messaging services, to discuss clients and business transactions, rather than official company platforms.
“Today’s actions against these 16 firms result from our continuing efforts to ensure that all regulated entities comply with the recordkeeping requirements, which are essential to our ability to monitor and enforce compliance with the federal securities laws,” Gurbir S. Grewal, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement.
The fined companies include:
U.S. Bancorp ‘s
investment subsidiary: U.S. Bancorp. Investments Inc.
- Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.
- Three Northwestern Mutual entities
- Guggenheim Securities and Guggenheim Partners Investment Management LLC
- Cambridge Investment Research Inc. and Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc.
subsidiaries: Key Investment Services LLC and KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc.
Two Lincoln National Corp.
subsidiaries: Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. and Lincoln Financial Securities Corp.
Three Huntington Bank
subsidiaries: the Huntington Investment Company, Huntington Securities Inc. and Capstone Capital Markets LLC
Grewal noted that Huntington’s smaller $1.25 million penalty “reflects its voluntary self-report and cooperation.”
The action is part of a multiyear effort by the SEC to stop financial firms from conducting communications through channels that aren’t preserved in the traditional record-keeping process, which began with a $125 million fine against JPMorgan Securities
in 2021. The agency sees record keeping as a vital tool in its mission to enforce securities laws.