October 23, 2017 / 9:30 AM / 2 years ago

UK watchdog fines Merrill Lynch 34.5 million pounds for reporting failure

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s financial watchdog has fined Bank of America’s (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch investment banking arm 34.5 million pounds ($45.5 million) for its third transaction reporting failure in just over a decade.

A man speaks on his mobile while standing in front of the Merrill Lynch building in New York, May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

The Financial Conduct Authority said the bank failed to have adequate oversight arrangements, undertake testing or allocate enough staff to properly meet reporting obligations for derivatives trading between February 2014 and February 2016.

The bank agreed to settle at an early stage in the investigation and received a 30 percent cut in the overall fine of 49.32 million pounds, the FCA said in a statement on Monday.

European Union regulators toughened reporting requirements in the derivatives market following the 2007-09 financial crisis, which left them unable to see easily which banks were exposed to large, risky positions, creating uncertainty in markets.

Banks now have to report their derivatives trades in a timely way so that regulators can spot uncontrolled risks building up.

It was the first enforcement action against a firm for failing to report details of derivatives traded on an exchange under the EU’s European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR), the FCA said.

“It is vital that reporting firms ensure their transaction reporting systems are tested as fit for purpose, adequately resourced and perform properly. There needs to be a line in the sand,” said Mark Steward, the FCA’s executive director for enforcement.

“We will continue to take appropriate action against any firm that fails to meet requirements.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said it was wholly committed to complying with all applicable regulatory requirements.

“When we discovered that certain trades had not been fully reported to a trade repository, as required following the introduction of EMIR, we immediately reported the matter to the FCA,” the bank said.

No customers suffered losses, it added.

The bank was fined 13.28 million pounds in April 2015 for failing to accurately report transactions between 2007 and 2014. In August 2006, the watchdog fined Merrill Lynch 150,000 pounds for share trading reporting failures.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Huw Jones in London; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Adrian Croft

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