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SEC Charges 16 Wall Street Firms with Widespread Recordkeeping Failures

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Washington, D.C.–(Newsfile Corp. – September 27, 2022) – The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against 15 broker-dealers and one affiliated investment adviser for widespread and longstanding failures by the firms and their employees to maintain and preserve electronic communications. The firms admitted the facts set forth in their respective SEC orders, acknowledged that their conduct violated recordkeeping provisions of the federal securities laws, agreed to pay combined penalties of more than $1.1 billion, and have begun implementing improvements to their compliance policies and procedures to settle these matters.

  • The following eight firms (and five affiliates) have agreed to pay penalties of $125 million each:
    • Barclays Capital Inc.;
    • BofA Securities Inc. together with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.;
    • Citigroup Global Markets Inc.;
    • Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC;
    • Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. together with DWS Distributors Inc. and DWS Investment Management Americas, Inc.;
    • Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC;
    • Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC together with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC; and
    • UBS Securities LLC together with UBS Financial Services Inc.
  • The following two firms have agreed to pay penalties of $50 million each:
    • Jefferies LLC; and
    • Nomura Securities International, Inc.
  • Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. has agreed to pay a $10 million penalty.

“Finance, ultimately, depends on trust. By failing to honor their recordkeeping and books-and-records obligations, the market participants we have charged today have failed to maintain that trust,” said SEC Chair, Gary Gensler. “Since the 1930s, such recordkeeping has been vital to preserve market integrity. As technology changes, it’s even more important that registrants appropriately conduct their communications about business matters within only official channels, and they must maintain and preserve those communications. As part of our examinations and enforcement work, we will continue to ensure compliance with these laws.”

The SEC staff’s investigation uncovered pervasive off-channel communications. The firms cooperated with the investigation by gathering communications from the personal devices of a sample of the firms’ personnel. These personnel included senior and junior investment bankers and debt and equity traders.

From January 2018 through September 2021, the firms’ employees routinely communicated about business matters using text messaging applications on their personal devices. The firms did not maintain or preserve the substantial majority of these off-channel communications, in violation of the federal securities laws. By failing to maintain and preserve required records relating to their businesses, the firms’ actions likely deprived the Commission of these off-channel communications in various Commission investigations. The failings occurred across all of the 16 firms and involved employees at multiple levels of authority, including supervisors and senior executives.

“Today’s actions – both in terms of the firms involved and the size of the penalties ordered – underscore the importance of recordkeeping requirements: they’re sacrosanct. If there are allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct, we must be able to examine a firm’s books and records to determine what happened,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “These 16 firms not only have admitted the facts and acknowledged that their conduct violated these very important requirements, but have also started to implement measures to prevent future violations. Other broker dealers and asset managers who are subject to similar requirements under the federal securities laws would be well-served to self-report and self-remediate any deficiencies.”

“These actions deliver a straightforward message to registrants: You are expected to abide by the Commission’s recordkeeping rules,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Deputy Director of Enforcement. “The time is now to bolster your record retention processes and to fix issues that could result in similar future misconduct by firm personnel. In line with this first-of-its-kind group resolution and our December 2021 settlement with J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, the staff will continue its efforts to enforce compliance with the Commission’s essential recordkeeping requirements.”

Each of the 15 broker-dealers was charged with violating certain recordkeeping provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and with failing reasonably to supervise with a view to preventing and detecting those violations. DWS Investment Management Americas, Inc., the investment adviser, was charged with violating certain recordkeeping provisions of the Investment Advisers of 1940 and with failing reasonably to supervise with a view to preventing and detecting those violations.

In addition to the significant financial penalties, each of the firms was ordered to cease and desist from future violations of the relevant recordkeeping provisions and were censured. The firms also agreed to retain compliance consultants to, among other things, conduct comprehensive reviews of their policies and procedures relating to the retention of electronic communications found on personal devices and their respective frameworks for addressing non-compliance by their employees with those policies and procedures.

Separately, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced settlements with the firms for related conduct.

The SEC’s investigation, which is ongoing, is being conducted by Zachary Sturges and Karen Willenken of the New York Regional Office, Ian Rupell of the SEC’s Headquarters, and HelenAnne Listerman and Jessica Neiterman of the Asset Management Unit. The case is being supervised by Thomas P. Smith Jr., Osman Nawaz, Carolyn Welshhans, Corey Schuster, and Laura Josephs.

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Mozrt’s Collaboration with BOK Financial: Revolutionizing Cross-Border Payments

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Mozrt, an award-winning payments technology platform, and BOKF, NA, one of the U.S.’s 25 largest banks, announce their plans to reshape cross-border payment services and elevate the capabilities of financial institutions.
At the heart of this collaboration lies Mozrt’s commitment to delivering advanced cross-border and FX payment capabilities to BOK Financial’s broad network of downstream or correspondent banks, magnifying efficiency and convenience for their clients. By combining the strengths of both entities, this collaboration empowers financial institutions of all sizes to seamlessly offer international payment capabilities to their customers.
The Mozrt MFX platform delivers real-time FX rates, allowing downstream correspondents to initiate and book cross-border payments. This all takes place within a highly secured platform, leveraging the latest in MFA and multi-level approval technology.
“The platform enables Mozrt and BOK Financial to introduce a suite of features designed to simplify processes, enhance security, and ultimately better serve downstream correspondents.
We’re excited to be providing a tech-forward solution that simplifies international payments, ensuring they are straightforward and hassle-free,” said Heath Hartley, BOK Financial. “The Mozrt platform offers robust beneficiary creation, validation, and management, facilitating accurate and efficient transactions.”
Furthermore, the collaboration facilitates a seamless transition for existing digital banking platforms, allowing single sign-on (SSO) or utilization of a custom, FI-branded portal. Mozrt’s modular design enables easy integration into various points across the front, middle, and back offices.
By delivering a user-centric online FX origination experience, this Mozrt – BOK Financial relationship equips financial institutions to meet the dynamic demands of the digital era.
Jeff Althaus, Founder & CEO of Mozrt, expressed his enthusiasm about the companies’ plans: “We are thrilled about the potential impact of Mozrt’s collaboration with BOK Financial in redefining cross-border payment services. Working alongside an innovative institution like BOK Financial enables us to provide a holistic solution that simplifies international transactions and accelerates our clients’ digital transformation.”

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MapMetrics expands to peaq from Solana following addition of Solana compatibility to peaq’s Multi-Chain Machine IDs

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peaq, the blockchain for real-world applications, announces the expansion of its ecosystem and product offering. MapMetrics, a Web3 drive-to-earn navigation app, will leverage peaq as part of its decentralized physical infrastructure network (DePIN) powering a Google Maps-style service. The development comes as peaq adds Solana compatibility to its Multi-Chain Machine IDs.

A Solana-originating project, MapMetrics will leverage the now Solana-compatible peaq IDs to build functions of the MapMetrics DePIN on peaq. These will include assigning peaq IDs to the navigator devices on its DePIN, using these IDs to authenticate the data collected by these devices, and a community voting mechanism.

Free navigation apps have become trusty companions for countless people around the world, with Google Maps alone boasting over a billion users. But despite a lack of an upfront cost, they come with a price of their own. When something is free, you are the product; when navigation is free, your personal data is being monetized. From leveraging the user’s position data for valuable insights on specific locations to serving them targeted location-based ads, the companies behind such apps profit from our sensitive data, sometimes without giving much thought to its privacy and protection. And in the case of massive companies like Google, they combine this data with the data sourced from all other Google-related data points to create digital models of ourselves, able to predict our behavior than ourselves.

MapMetrics is changing the equation by putting navigation on Web3 rails. It uses location trackers that enable users to share their anonymized data with the network, earning cryptocurrency and NFTs as rewards. While featuring its own ad engine, it makes sure that no private user data is exposed to the advertisers and shares the ad revenue with the community. It boasts 3,500 devices in the network and 5,000 users across 73 countries.

As part of its integration with peaq, MapMetrics will use peaq’s Multi-Chain IDs to enable devices to connect with the peaq network. It will build and deploy some of the core functions powering its navigation DePIN on peaq, using peaq IDs to authenticate and sign the anonymized data that the devices collect. It will also tap peaq to build a community voting pallet — a building block that other projects will be able to use as well — which will enable the community to contribute to its Google Maps-style navigation service by adding the locations of speed cameras and other objects and validating it with votes.

This comes as peaq expands the compatibility of its peaq IDs to include Solana. Enabling this is an address map running as part of the peaq storage pallet, pallets being modules for building blockchains in the framework that peaq runs on. This map works like an address book, linking addresses of different standards used on various networks and thus enabling cross-chain communication and information exchanges.

For example, with this integration, a solar panel with an ID on Solana will be able to connect to an energy marketplace on peaq. The previous updates made peaq IDs compatible with Binance’s BNB Chain, Ethereum Virtual Machine, and Cosmos. peaq’s steps toward its Multi-Chain vision have already eased the transition for projects coming from Algorand and Polygon, and will now unlock new opportunities for MapMetrics and other projects in the Solana ecosystem.

The peaq ID compatibility expansion enables teams originating on Solana to expand and leverage peaq’s DePIN functions without friction or fragmentation. With peaq Multi-Chain IDs, Solana-originated projects can easily tap peaq for some of their crucial functions.

“With its DePIN-focused functions and economics, peaq is the perfect home for DePINs,” says Brent van der Heiden, CEO of MapMetrics. “We are excited to be joining this bustling ecosystem, and the newfound compatibility between peaq IDs and Solana addresses is making this process significantly more convenient.”

“We believe in an open, Multi-Chain Web3 with seamless communication and value exchange between a plethora of protocols,” says Till Wendler, co-founder of peaq. “By making peaq IDs compatible with Solana, we take another step toward bringing this vision to life — and it’s invigorating to see excellent projects such as MapMetrics use this technology to solve real business problems with the DePIN model.”

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Spool hones in on bringing institutions into DeFi by launching its expansive V2 upgrade

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Spool DAO, or Spool, the platform allowing institutions and users to build customizable risk-managed DeFi products, launches its V2 upgrade. Spool’s new platform expands its original DeFi infrastructure and tools, with heightened decentralized access and new capabilities. Institutions of all sizes can now leverage its slate of new features and interface updates to build, manage, and explore DeFi products with unparalleled flexibility, risk reduction, and security.

Despite crypto’s whirlwind year, DeFi’s blue-chip protocols managed to largely withstand the industry-wide chaos. But that doesn’t mean the DeFi landscape hasn’t changed at all. Looming regulatory steps, such as the new bipartisan bill entering the U.S. Senate, aim to monitor DeFi apps similarly to banks, setting the stage to accommodate increasing interest from legacy financial institutions. Banks and institutions clearly see potential in crypto and DeFi’s financial possibilities, but they lack the proper tools to enter it easily, compliantly, and on their terms.

To meet this institutional need, Spool now provides a completely rebuilt platform for risk-managed and automated DeFi yield. Created from the ground up to be faster, more efficient, more composable, and easier to use than its predecessor, V2 represents a leap for Spool and institutions expanding their DeFi presence. The upgrade expands upon Spool’s core offering and introduces several key features to maximize the effectiveness of institutional DeFi investment. These features and enhancements include:

    • Multi-Asset Smart Vaults: Institutions creating Smart Vaults can now build them to contain a range of yield strategies using multiple assets. Multi-asset Smart Vaults enhance functionality in addition to Spool’s classic auto-swapping and auto-rebalancing capabilities. Investors can simply create or pick an existing Smart Vault that matches their investment preferences, and send the assets they have available. The assets are then automatically swapped and implemented in audited and battle-tested smart contracts to attain the best yields possible while allowing funds to be withdrawn at any time.
    • Smart Vault Guards: Institutions building Smart Vaults can now dictate which users can deposit or withdraw from the Vault based on specific criteria, mirroring traditional investment funds. This helps institutions tailor DeFi offerings not only to regulatory compliance but to their specific client needs as well. Institutions can create KYC and AML-compliant Smart Vaults, for example, and only allow access to vetted investors through whitelisted wallets. Other parameters include NFT or Token Gating (where a user must hold a specific NFT or token amount to access the vault), and Time Locks.
    • Actions: Spool builders can now implement customizable actions tied to user activities such as entering or exiting a Smart Vault that is configured during its creation. Actions help support institutions by creating a framework that feels familiar to traditional finance and includes features such as deposit or withdrawal fees, deposit insurance fees, and automated asset swaps that help streamline the once-manual process for yield farming.
    • Liquid Staking Derivatives (LSDs) Support: LSDs are tokens issued in return for staking cryptocurrency through a staking provider. This comes in handy for networks such as Ethereum, where validators must hold a minimum of 32 ETH to access staking and validator privileges. LSDs also allow users to withdraw staked ETH, which validators cannot do. As strategies using LSDs become more popular and prevalent, adding support in V2 enables greater convenience.
    • Advanced Automation: One of DeFi’s major obstacles lies in manual asset management within yield farms. V2 improves upon Spool’s original automation features while maintaining decentralization and self-custody. Once assets are within a Smart Vault portfolio, V2 automatically rebalances them between various strategies configured in the Vault. Spool also now offers automated collateral conversion, meaning clients investing in a Smart Vault can utilize any underlying asset they have available. Spool automatically converts the asset before investing, granting increased ease and choice.
    • Deposit NFTs (dNFTs): D-NFTs provide users with an immutable NFT receipt of their Smart Vault deposits, enabling the withdrawal of funds. ERC-20 Smart Vault Tokens (SVTs) are created by burning D-NFTs and act as yield-bearing stablecoins, which can be easily transferred or traded on a secondary market, creating a new liquid financial instrument.

Check out Spool’s video here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/150B6sSdX9gMAjdig-5675nLfftciWidJ/view

More detailed video with features overview can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uIr_AJ_iHKErkHR5lFaUWk39A4-NUtEo/view?usp=drive_link

Among these new features, Spool V2’s completely redesigned interface allows institutions and asset managers to have a birds-eye view of their Smart Vault portfolio. The platform champions accessibility while providing the comprehensive tools and oversight that institutions require. This includes tools for easily white-labeling Smart Vaults for client access with their own branding and unique insights into Smart Vault performance based on customizable KPIs.

By enabling the codeless creation of financial services and products backed by audited financial primitives, institutions that don’t have DeFi-specific teams are now able to easily access DeFi. The upgrade’s capabilities set the stage for large-scale institutional partnerships in the pipeline for Spool, following a steady stream of integrations and collaborations leading up to its launch.

“We are incredibly proud to launch Spool V2 after countless months of our team developing, testing, and listening to the feedback and needs of our institutional partners,” says Philipp Zimmerer, Lead of Token Strategy of Spool. “This lands at a pivotal moment in crypto in a year that has been all about responsibly rebuilding the industry and forging a new path for DeFi. Improving access, flexibility, and security will not only garner further institutional support but set a new standard for what DeFi can make possible for any investor.”

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