The Blotter: CBOE hit with $6 million fine, optionsXpress fined $3.5 million

Also: Arizona CPO accused of being fraudulent

"The proper regulation of the markets relies on SROs to aggressively police their member firms and enforce their rules as well as the securities laws," said Andrew J. Ceresney, Co-Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. "When SROs fail to regulate responsibly the conduct of their member firms as CBOE did here, we will not hesitate to bring an enforcement action."

Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division's market abuse unit, added, "CBOE's failures in this case were disappointing. The public depends on SROs to provide a watchful eye on their exchanges and market activities occurring through them. They must have strong compliance cultures and adequate and dedicated compliance resources to ensure that they do not stray from their bedrock obligation to provide rigorous self-regulation."

According to the SEC's order, CBOE moved its surveillance and monitoring of Reg. SHO compliance from one department to another in 2008, and the transfer of responsibilities adversely affected its Reg. SHO enforcement program. After that transfer, CBOE did not take action against any firm for violations of Reg. SHO as a result of its surveillance or complaints from third parties. Reg. SHO requires the delivery of equity securities to a registered clearing agency when delivery is due, generally three days after the trade date (T+3). If no delivery is made by that time, the firm must purchase or borrow the securities to close out that failure-to-deliver position by no later than the beginning of regular trading hours on the next day (T+4). CBOE failed to adequately enforce Reg. SHO because its staff lacked a fundamental understanding of the rule. CBOE investigators responsible for Reg. SHO surveillance never received any formal training. CBOE never ensured that its investigators even read the rules. Therefore, they did not have a basic understanding of a failure to deliver.

According to the SEC's order, CBOE received a complaint in February 2009 about possible short sale violations involving a customer account at a member firm. CBOE began investigating whether the trading activity violated Rule 204T of Reg. SHO. However, CBOE staff assigned to the case did not know how to determine if a fail existed and were confused about whether Reg. SHO applied to a retail customer. CBOE closed its Reg. SHO investigation later that year.

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