The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced that Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB) has agreed to pay a $9.5 million penalty for failing to properly safeguard material nonpublic information generated by its research analysts. Deutsche Bank also published an improper research report and failed to properly preserve and provide certain electronic records sought by the SEC during its investigation.
According to the agency, Deutsche Bank encouraged its equity research analysts to communicate frequently with customers as well as its own sales and trading personnel, but lacked adequate policies and procedures to prevent analysts from disclosing yet-to-be-published views and analyses, changes in estimates, and short-term trade recommendations during morning calls, trading day squawks, idea dinners, and non-deal road shows.
Also the investigation found that Deutsche Bank issued a research report with a “BUY” rating for discount retailer Big Lots that was inconsistent with the personal view of the analyst who prepared and certified it as true despite privately telling others that Big Lots should have been downgraded. The analyst was charged by the SEC earlier this year.
According to the SEC’s order, the electronic records at issue were certain communications that took place on Deutsche Bank’s internal messaging system known as DB Chat. Deutsche Bank could not represent that it had recovered all of the DB Chat communications involving equity research personnel during the relevant period because the firm failed for multiple years to properly preserve them in an accessible place.
Antonia Chion, Associate Director of the SEC Division of Enforcement, commented:
Information generated by research analysts such as ratings, views, estimates, and trading recommendations can move markets. Broker-dealers must maintain and enforce policies and procedures that are reasonably designed in light of the nature of their business to prevent the misuse of such information.
Shares of Deutsche Bank were last trading at $13.65, with a consensus analyst price target of $11.11 and a 52-week trading range of $11.19 to $30.82.