FINRA Fines Piper Jaffray $700,000 for E-mail Retention Issues and Other Violations

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is fining Piper Jaffray & Co. $700,000 for violations related to the investment bank’s alleged failure to maintain about 4.3 million emails from November 2002 through December 2008 and for neglecting to tell FINRA about the issues it was having with email retention and retrieval. FINRA contends that this lack of disclosure not only affected Piper Jaffray’s ability to fully comply with the SRO’s email extraction requests, but it also may have impacted the investment bank’s ability to respond to email requests from other regulators, as well as from parties involved in civil arbitration or litigation.

By not disclosing that “it was not making complete production of its emails,” per FINRA Executive Vice President and Acting Director of Enforcement James S. Shorris, Piper Jaffray was “potentially preventing production of crucial evidence of improper conduct…” Shorris said email retention was a “critical regulatory requirement” for broker-dealers.

The broker-dealer was first sanctioned for email retention failure in 2002. Piper Jaffray settled by agreeing to reevaluate its systems and certify that it had set up systems and procedures that were aimed at preserving email communications. Since making that certification in 2003, Piper Jaffray has never indicated that it was experiencing system failures.

It wasn’t until FINRA investigators asked for emails that a former Piper Jaffray employee suspected of misconduct had sent and received that the investment bank’s ongoing email retention deficiencies were discovered. A CD-ROM sent by Piper Jaffray that reportedly had all of the employee’s emails was missing an email that had led to the internal probe. This investigation resulted in the employee’s firing and in FINRA making an enforcement action against the worker.

By agreeing to settle, Piper Jaffray is not admitting to or denying FINRA’s charges.

Related Web Resources:
FINRA Fines Piper Jaffray $700,000 for Email Retention Violations, Related Disclosure, Supervisory and Reporting Violations, FINRA, May 24, 2010
Retention issue: Finra fines Piper Jaffray over e-mail archiving, Investment News, May 25, 2010
Read the Letter of Acceptance (PDF)

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