Thursday, May 13, 2010
FINRA fined two broker-dealers a total of $925,000 for executing numerous short sale orders in violation of Regulation SHO and for related supervisory violations. FINRA fined New York's Deutsche Bank Securities $575,000 and Boston's National Financial Services (NFS) $350,000.
Regulation SHO requires that a broker or dealer may not accept or effect a short sale order in an equity security without reasonable grounds to believe that the security can be borrowed, so that it can be delivered on the date delivery is due. Identifying a source from which to borrow such security is generally referred to as obtaining a "locate." Locates must be obtained and documented prior to effecting a short sale.
Both Deutsche Bank and NFS implemented Direct Market Access trading systems for their customers that were designed to block the execution of short sale orders unless a "locate" had been obtained and documented. But FINRA found that Deutsche Bank disabled its system in certain instances and NFS created a separate system for certain customers – so that in both instances, the systems no longer blocked some short sale orders that did not have valid, associated locates.
FINRA also found that both firms implemented inadequate supervisory systems in connection with their Regulation SHO compliance. Deutsche Bank was aware that its system to block short sale orders in the absence of locates was periodically disabled over a period of more than four years (from January 2005 through September 2009), but failed to devise or implement a replacement procedure. Similarly, NFS created a flawed system for certain customers that failed to ensure that certain short sale orders had valid and timely locates associated with them. NFS's flawed system operated for nearly four years (from January 2005 through August 2008).