June 1, 2017 / 3:24 PM / 3 years ago

FINRA suspends ex-Morgan Stanley trader for Venezuelan bond deals

A sign for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is seen outside the offices in New York's financial district July 22, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) said on Thursday it barred John Batista Bocchino, a former Morgan Stanley (MS.N) representative, for concealing around $190 million in Venezuelan bond trades from the firm, which had restricted such trading.

Morgan Stanley had restricted trading in Venezuelan bonds due to regulatory and anti-money laundering concerns as well as risks to its reputation, FINRA, Wall Street’s industry-funded watchdog said in a statement.

The news comes just days after Goldman Sachs (GS.N) came under fire from Venezuelan politicians opposed to President Nicolas Maduro for “aiding and abetting the country’s dictatorial regime” by buying $2.8 billion in government bonds for pennies on the dollar.

Japanese investment bank Nomura Securities bought about $100 million worth of Venezuelan bonds last week as part of the same deal that Goldman Sachs took part in, sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Bocchino traded in Venezuelan bonds on behalf of his customers, but hid the trades from Morgan Stanley by using nominee accounts in the names of U.S. financial institutions, and directing the trades through those accounts, FINRA said.

He also created several false documents, including new account forms, to carry out the trades, the watchdog said.

FINRA said Bocchino’s sales assistant at Morgan Stanley, Rafael Barela Jacinto, was suspended for a year for creating firm documents containing false information.

Bocchino and Barela neither admitted nor denied the charges, FINRA said.

Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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