he Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Interactive Brokers LLC will pay an $11.5 million penalty to settle charges it repeatedly failed to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) for U.S. microcap securities trades it executed on behalf of its customers. In parallel actions, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced settlements with Interactive Brokers related to anti-money laundering failures in which the registered broker-dealer agreed to pay penalties of $15 million and $11.5 million, respectively, for a total of $38 million in penalties paid to the three agencies.
Broker-dealers are required to file SARs for transactions suspected to involve fraud or a lack of an apparent lawful business purpose. According to the SEC’s order, over a one-year period, Interactive Brokers failed to file more than 150 SARs to flag potential manipulation of microcap securities in its customers’ account, some of the trading accounting for a significant portion of the daily volume in certain of the microcap issuers. The order finds that Interactive Brokers failed to recognize red flags concerning these transactions, failed to properly investigate suspicious activity as required by its written supervisory procedures, and failed to file SARs in a timely fashion even when suspicious transactions were flagged by compliance personnel.