WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) today announced it has fined Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. $12.5 million for significant supervisory failures related to research and trading-related information it disseminated to its employees, called ‘hoots’ or ‘squawks,’ over internal speakers commonly known as ‘squawk boxes.’ Despite multiple red flags regarding the potential dissemination of confidential information, Deutsche Bank failed to establish adequate supervision over registered representatives’ access to hoots or their communications with customers regarding hoots. As part of the settlement, Deutsche Bank also agreed to provide a written certification that it has adopted and implemented supervisory systems and written procedures concerning hoots that are reasonably designed to achieve compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws.
FINRA found that Deutsche Bank was aware that hoots involving research and trading might contain confidential, price-sensitive information, and that there was a risk that material non-public information could be communicated over them. However, for several years, the firm repeatedly ignored red flags indicating that its supervision was inadequate, including internal audit findings and recommendations, multiple internal warnings from members of the firm’s compliance department, and internal risk assessments. Despite these red flags, the firm still failed to implement reasonable written policies, procedures and systems governing who should have access to the hoot information, how the employees should handle hoot information, and how supervisors should supervise employees to ensure compliance, and protection of confidential and material nonpublic information potentially communicated over the hoots.
Brad Bennett, FINRA’s Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement, said, “Recognizing and responding to red flags is the hallmark of proper supervision, particularly in areas involving confidential information. Deutsche Bank’s disregard of years of red flags including internal audit findings, risk assessments and compliance recommendations was particularly egregious given the risk that material nonpublic information could be communicated over squawk boxes.”
In settling this matter, Deutsche Bank neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA’s BrokerCheck. FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2015, members of the public used this service to conduct 71 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999. Investors may find copies of this disciplinary action as well as other disciplinary documents in FINRA’s Disciplinary Actions Online database. Investors can also call FINRA’s Securities Helpline for Seniors at (844) 57-HELPS for assistance or to raise concerns about issues they have with their brokerage accounts and investments.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, and informing and educating the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.