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Red Oak Blog

News that affects your business and ours.
 
Monday, August 11 2014

FINRA Fines Heating Up

Summer temperatures in Texas are heating up almost as fast as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) monthly “Disciplinary and Other FINRA Actions” publication. Reported recently by ThinkAdvisor.com citing an analysis by the law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan (Sutherland), FINRA is on track to assessing 49% more in fines this year than last year’s $57 million.

The first half of 2014 has already seen fines totaling $42.4 million compared with $23 million during the first half of 2013. At the current rate, fines in 2014 will total approximately $85 million which is still lower than the $111 million reported by FINRA in 2006. The Sutherland study also noted that FINRA “appears to be repositioning itself as its actions shift from cases relating to the financial crisis to more technical issues,” such as books and records and trade reporting violations.

Issues drawing the most heat so far this year are:

  • Books and Records: $13.7 million in fines, 61 cases
  • Anti-Money Laundering: $11.3 million in fines, 17 cases
  • Net Capital: $9.7 million in fines, 18 cases
  • Unregistered Securities: $9.2 million in fines, 11 cases
  • Trade Reporting: $6.7 million in fines, 92 cases

One reason noted by Sutherland for the higher total is that fines themselves have been higher in 2014 than 2013. During the first half of 2013 there were only two fines of $1 million or more totaling $2.3 million. So far this year there have been five fines totaling $20.4 million. One anti-money laundering compliance failure case involving penny stock transactions resulted in an $8 million fine.

The study by Sutherland also found that as fines are heating up, disciplinary actions are cooling off . . . slightly. Fines are up 49% so far this year and disciplinary actions are down about 7% with 558 actions during the first half of this year (597 during first half of 2013). Please click here to ready the full article.

While there is not much we can do about the temperature, Red Oak stands ready to help you and your firm keep your cool year round.