Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FINRA Fines UBS $12 Million for Short-Sales Violations

FINRA announced that it fined UBS Securities LLC $12 million for violating Regulation SHO (Reg SHO) and failing to properly supervise short sales of securities. As a result of these violations, millions of short sale orders were mismarked and/or placed to the market without reasonable grounds to believe that the securities could be borrowed and delivered.  Reg SHO requires a broker-dealer to have reasonable grounds to believe that the security could be borrowed and available for delivery before accepting or effecting a short sale order.In addition, Reg SHO requires a broker-dealer to mark sales of equity securities as long or short.

 FINRA found that UBS' Reg SHO supervisory system regarding locates and the marking of sale orders was significantly flawed and resulted in a systemic supervisory failure that contributed to serious Reg SHO failures across its equities trading business. First, FINRA found that UBS placed millions of short sale orders to the market without locates, including in securities that were known to be hard to borrow. These locate violations extended to numerous trading systems, desks, accounts and strategies, and impacted UBS' technology, operations, and supervisory systems and procedures. Second, FINRA found that UBS mismarked millions of sale orders in its trading systems. Many of these mismarked orders were short sales that were mismarked as "long," resulting in additional significant violations of Reg SHO's locate requirement. Third, FINRA found that UBS had significant deficiencies related to its aggregation units that may have contributed to additional significant order-marking and locate violations.

As a result of its supervisory failures, many of UBS' violations were not detected or corrected until after FINRA's investigation caused UBS to conduct a substantive review of its systems and monitoring procedures for Reg SHO compliance. FINRA found that UBS' supervisory framework over its equities trading business was not reasonably designed to achieve compliance with the requirements of Reg SHO and other securities laws, rules and regulations until at least 2009.

 

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