Several US financial firms, including multiple Wells Fargo companies, will pay a combined $549 million in fines after admitting they couldn’t produce discussions about company business from smartphone messaging apps used by their employees, “including those at senior levels.”
Both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) fined banks for being unable to produce discussions going back to at least 2019. The regulators say employees used their personal devices to discuss official company business via apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, or Signal and that those “off-channel communications” weren’t “maintained or preserved.”
Not keeping records of those conversations violates the 1934 Securities Exchange Act’s recordkeeping rules, as well as similar rules from the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, according to the SEC. The CFTC maintains its own recordkeeping requirements, which it says were violated.
The biggest chunk of the fines go to the Wells Fargo companies, which together will pay almost half of the SEC’s penalties at $125 million, along with another $75 million settlement with the CFTC.
“Here are three takeaways for those firms who haven’t yet done so: self-report, cooperate and remediate,” said SEC enforcement director Gurbir S. Grewal. “If you adopt that playbook, you’ll have a better outcome than if you wait for us to come calling.”
Here’s the full list of banks and their settlements with the SEC:
And the list from the CFTC release: