Holidays or not, enforcement actions still took place as the Department of Labor went after PBI Bank, suing to recover losses caused to the Miller’s Health Systems employee stock ownership plan, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined Barclays Bank $3.75 million for failures to preserve its electronic files and communications.
In addition, FINRA arbitrators awarded more than $900,000 to two trusts and one individual who were sold nontraded REITs.
The Securities and Exchange Commission was also busy, charging Instinet LLC with ignoring red flags and forking over more than $400,000 in soft dollars.
FINRA Arbitrators Award Investors $900,000 on Nontraded REIT Sales
Three investors — two trusts and one individual — were awarded more than $900,000 altogether by a FINRA arbitration panel after it found two Tampa, Fla.-based companies in violation of securities laws regarding the sale of nontraded REITs.
Sterling Enterprises Group Inc. and Retirement Securities Inc. sold two nontraded REITs offered by Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. — Inland Western Real Estate Investment Trust and Inland American Real Estate Investment Trust — to Kristopher Brownlow, the individual, and to the Derek Mason Trust and the Martha Mason Trust. All three lost money on the deals.
Jeffrey Coleman of the Coleman Law Firm in Clearwater represented the investors before the FINRA dispute resolution panel. His firm issued a statement saying that Inland Real Estate Trust is one of the country’s biggest nontraded REITs, with real estate assets totaling more than $11 billion.
Retirement Securities, according to FINRA, did not make an appearance; Sterling was represented by its president, Alyn Towne III. Neither company responded to the charges before the panel, which then awarded Brownlow $47,552; the Derek Mason Trust $719, 971; and the Martha Mason Trust $133,154.
As of Dec. 17, Sterling was no longer registered with FINRA, and Retirement Securities has not been registered with the agency since 2006.
FINRA Fines Barclays $3.75M Over Electronic Record Storage
FINRA announced that it has fined Barclays Capital Inc. $3.75 million for systemic failures to preserve electronic records and certain emails and instant messages in the manner required for at least 10 years.
While federal securities laws and FINRA rules require that business-related electronic records be kept in non-rewritable, non-erasable format (also referred to as “Write-Once, Read-Many” or “WORM” format) to prevent alteration, FINRA found that from at least 2002 to 2012, Barclays failed to do so.
Instead, many of its required electronic books and records — including order and trade ticket data, trade confirmations, blotters, account records and other similar records — were not only not held in WORM format, but the problem was so widespread, permeating all of the firm’s business areas, that Barclays was unable to determine whether all of its electronic books and records were maintained in an unaltered condition. FINRA also found that from May 2007 to May 2010, Barclays not only failed to properly retain certain attachments to Bloomberg emails, it also failed to properly retain approximately 3.3 million Bloomberg instant messages from October 2008 to May 2010. This not only violated FINRA, SEC and National Association of Securities Dealers rules and regulations but also adversely impacted Barclays’ ability to respond to requests for electronic communications in regulatory and civil matters.
Finally, FINRA said that Barclays failed to establish and maintain both system and written procedures that would achieve compliance with SEC, NASD and FINRA rules and regulations, and it also failed to identify and fix deficiencies related to those requirements in a timely manner.
Barclays neither admitted nor denied FINRA’s findings, but consented to their entry.