Interactive Brokers to pay $38 million in penalties to U.S. regulators

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Interactive Brokers LLC will pay $38 million in penalties to settle charges it failed to flag suspicious activity and meet anti-money laundering requirements, U.S. markets regulators said on Monday.

The broker-dealer agreed to pay $15 million to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for widespread anti-money laundering failures that persisted for over five years, FINRA said. Interactive Brokers saw “dramatic growth” in its business from January 2013 to September 2018, becoming one of the largest electronic broker-dealers in the United States, but failed to dedicate necessary resources to properly surveil hundreds of millions of dollars in wire transfers or to reasonably investigate suspicious activity, according to FINRA.

As part of the deal, the firm will have to implement recommendations from a third-party consultant to remedy the issues.

Interactive Brokers will also pay $11.5 million to resolve parallel charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over repeated failures to file suspicious-activity reports for U.S. microcap securities trades executed for customers, the agency said in a statement. The firm did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings, it said.

Interactive Brokers will pay another $11.5 million fine to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for failing as a registered futures commission merchant to diligently supervise employees’ handling of accounts. The firm executed orders for a Harvard graduate who was previously charged with fraud in a Ponzi-like scheme, CFTC said.

The firm will pay another $706,214 in disgorgement for the CFTC charges.

“We cooperated fully with our regulators in these inquiries, and the significant steps that we have taken to expand and enhance our program were taken into account in today’s settlements,” a spokesperson for Interactive Brokers said in an emailed statement.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Chris Prentice in Washington; Editing by Steve Orlofsky