FINRA fines Credit Suisse Securities $1.75M

WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has fined Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC $1.75 million for violating Regulation SHO (Reg SHO) and failing to properly supervise short sales of securities and marking of sale orders. As a result of these violations, Credit Suisse entered millions of short sale orders without reasonable grounds to believe that the securities could be borrowed and delivered and mismarked thousands of sales orders.

In a short sale, the seller sells a security it does not own. When it is time to deliver the security, the short seller either purchases or borrows the security in order to make the delivery. Reg SHO requires a broker or 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. Requiring firms to obtain and document this "locate" information before the short sale is entered reduces the number of potential failures to deliver in equity securities. In addition, Reg SHO requires a broker or dealer to mark sales of equity securities as long or short.

Brad Bennett, FINRA Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement, said, "Credit Suisse's Reg SHO supervisory and compliance monitoring system was seriously flawed. Millions of short sale orders were being entered in its systems without locates for over four years because the firm did not have adequate Reg SHO technology and procedures in place."

FINRA found that from June 2006 through December 2010, Credit Suisse's Reg SHO supervisory system regarding locates and the marking of sale orders was flawed and resulted in a systemic supervisory failure that contributed to significant Reg SHO failures across its equities trading business. During the time period, Credit Suisse released millions of short sale orders to the market without locates, including threshold and hard to borrow securities. The locate violations extended to numerous trading systems, aggregation units and strategies. In addition, Credit Suisse mismarked tens of thousands of sale orders in its trading systems. The mismarked orders included short sales that were mismarked as "long," resulting in additional violations of Reg SHO's locate requirement.

As a result of its supervisory failures, many of Credit Suisse's violations were not detected or corrected by the firm until after FINRA's investigation caused Credit Suisse to conduct a substantive review of its systems and monitoring procedures for Reg SHO compliance. FINRA found that Credit Suisse's 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 throughout the period at least June 2006 through at least December 2010.

In concluding this settlement, Credit Suisse neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.

FINRA's investigation was conducted by Jeanne Elmadany and Chun Li under the supervision of Susan Light, Chief Counsel.

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