Securities regulators have accused big investment firm Oppenheimer of thwarting an investigation of municipal-bond trading, inaccurate and...
WASHINGTON — Securities regulators have accused big investment firm Oppenheimer of thwarting an investigation of municipal-bond trading, inaccurate and late reporting of muni-bond trades and failing to retain relevant e-mail documents.
Oppenheimer disputed the allegations made public yesterday by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), the brokerage industry’s self-policing organization, saying that it cooperated fully with the NASD in its investigation.
During the period in question in 2003-04, Oppenheimer said, it acquired four brokerage firms — adding 35 branch offices and more than 250,000 customer accounts and doubling its business — which each used different e-mail systems.
“The firm has worked diligently to provide tens of thousands of documents and all requested information,” New York-based Oppenheimer said in a statement. “The firm intends to work with the NASD toward a speedy resolution of these matters.”
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Under NASD rules, Oppenheimer can request a hearing before a disciplinary panel of the organization.
If the complaint is upheld, sanctions can include a civil fine, censure, payment of restitution and suspension from the securities industry.
The NASD said that between January 2003 and May 2004, Oppenheimer failed to report more than 6,100 municipal-bond transactions with other firms to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board on a timely basis and that in many cases, the reports were inaccurate when they were finally made.
The firm failed to report some muni-bond trades, reported others that were never made and reported still others late and inaccurately, the NASD charged.
It said that when it requested information from Oppenheimer in September 2004 on its retention of e-mail for 20 employees, the firm failed to provide the information.
A similar failure to provide documents, involving confirmations of municipal-bond trades being investigated, occurred in August 2003, the NASD said.
The NASD and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been examining whether big Wall Street firms engaged in deceptive or unfair practices in the $200 billion market for corporate and municipal bonds, which increasingly has been drawing ordinary investors.
“Oppenheimer’s failure to fully and accurately report municipal-bond transactions deprived the investing public and market participants of critical information,” said NASD Vice Chairman Mary Schapiro.