A 3D printed Whatsapp logo is pictured on a keyboard in front of binary code in this illustration taken September 24, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

EXCLUSIVE U.S. SEC opens inquiry into Wall Street banks’ staff communications -sources

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    WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Trade Fee (SEC) has opened a broad inquiry into how Wall Street banks are conserving observe of workers’ digital communications, three individuals acquainted with the matter informed Reuters.

    SEC enforcement staff contacted a number of banks in current weeks to examine whether or not they have been adequately documenting workers’ work-related communications, resembling textual content messages and emails, with a concentrate on their private units, mentioned the individuals, who spoke on the situation of anonymity.

    The business “sweep” is an additional signal that the SEC is ramping up enforcement below its Democratic management, and highlights the challenges Wall Street banks face conserving observe of staff communications within the work-from-home pandemic period.

    The SEC periodically conducts sweeps to shortly collect data on points it suspects could also be widespread. Sweeps can generally, though not essentially, result in formal probes.

    The sweep seems to stem from a probe the company has been conducting for a while into a person monetary establishment, two of the sources mentioned, with out naming the agency.

    In August, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) disclosed that it had been fielding regulatory inquiries regarding its “compliance with records preservation requirements in connection with business communications sent over electronic messaging channels” that the financial institution had not permitted. It mentioned it was discussing a “resolution” with regulators, with out specifying which of them.

    Spokespeople for the SEC and JPMorgan declined to remark.

    The SEC and the Monetary Trade Regulatory Authority, Wall Street’s self-regulatory physique, require broker-dealers to maintain data of all business-related communications. Banks must stroll a positive line to adjust to these necessities with out infringing upon workers’ privateness, mentioned one of many sources.

    In the USA, there isn’t any clear-cut authorized foundation on which an employer can demand to examine workers’ private communications, whereas in different nations doing so could breach information safety statutes, the supply mentioned.

    Consequently, many monetary companies ban the usage of private e-mail, texts and different social media channels for work functions, however maintaining with a proliferation of communication apps — particularly throughout the pandemic — is a problem for corporations.

    In a speech final week, the SEC’s head of enforcement Gurbir Grewal warned that establishments ought to keep on high of the numerous “issues raised by the increased use of personal devices, new communications channels, and other technological developments.”

    Failure to retain and produce communication data can impede regulatory investigations, Grewal mentioned within the remarks.

    Final yr, Morgan Stanley (MS.N)fired two high executives as a result of unauthorized use of WhatsApp to debate work issues.

    Enhancing by Michelle Worth and Nick Zieminski

    Jody Godoy

    Jody Godoy reviews on banking and securities regulation. Attain her at [email protected]