The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) fined Barclays Capital Inc. (Barclays) $3.75 million for systemic failures relating to the failure to preserve electronic records, emails, and instant messages in the manner required for a period of at least 10 years. The retention of electronic correspondence and records is critical for the proper supervision of brokerage activities. Without a proper record retention system, brokerage firms are essentially blind to certain types of securities misconduct.
Federal securities laws and FINRA rules require that business electronic records must be kept in non-rewritable, non-erasable format — also referred to as “Write-Once, Read-Many” or “WORM” format — to prevent alteration. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stated that a firm’s books and records are the primary means of monitoring compliance with the securities laws.
FINRA found that from at least 2002 to 2012, Barclays failed to preserve many of its required electronic books and records—including order and trade ticket data, trade confirmations, blotters, and account records in WORM format. FINRA found that Barclays retention failures were widespread and included all of the firm’s business areas. Thus, FINRA alleged that Barclays was unable to determine whether all of its electronic books and records were maintained in an unaltered condition.