SEC grants waivers to banks after guilty pleas

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - A U.S. regulator has granted a series of waivers to JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N and four other major banks allowing them to continue their usual securities business, after they agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges.

Four of the banks - Barclays Plc BARC.L, JPMorgan, Citigroup Inc C.N and the Royal Bank of Scotland Plc RBS.L - pleaded guilty to manipulating foreign exchange rates, while UBS AG UBSG.VX pleaded guilty to rigging benchmark interest rates.

At the close of business on Wednesday, all of the various waivers the SEC granted were posted on the agency’s website.

The banks need the waivers from rules that restrict criminals from doing securities business.

All of the banks received regulatory waivers allowing them to continue to quickly issue new securities.

Barclays Plc and UBS were also each granted another type of SEC waiver allowing them to continue their business activities involving the sale of private securities.

In addition, the SEC also approved waivers that will allow several of the banks to continue dealings with mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

The banks are expected to separately apply to the U.S. Department of Labor for exemptions to deal with pension and retirement savings plans.

The banks can continue to work for them while their applications are reviewed, which could take months.

Absent an exemption from the Department of Labor, the prohibition on managing a retirement plan would take effect upon sentencing.

A Labor Department spokesman said the department so far has received applications from JP Morgan and Citigroup.

In the past, waivers have generally been granted without a hitch. However, the practice has come under fire in the past year, particularly at the SEC, where Democratic Commissioner Kara Stein has criticized the agency for rubber-stamping requests and being too soft on repeat offenders.

A person familiar with the matter said that in this case, some of the SEC’s commissioners dissented on granting the waivers.

Reporting by David Henry in New York and Steve Slater in London; additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington; editing by Soyoung Kim, Jeffrey Benkoe, Steve Orlofsky and Phil Berlowitz