A U.S. subsidiary of Swiss multinational investment bank UBS Group has agreed to pay more than $8 million as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly failing to adopt adequate policies and procedures regarding a certain exchange-traded product (ETP).
UBS Financial Services was assessed a civil penalty of $8 million and will pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest of $112,274. The money will be distributed to harmed investors.
The details: Between January 2016 and January 2018, UBS Financial Services failed to adopt procedures regarding best use of a certain volatile ETP, iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN, according to the SEC. As a result, financial advisers purchased and held the ETP for lengthy periods, including over a year, that led to a decrease in its value.
UBS had controls and systems in place for the proper monitoring of the ETP but failed to implement them, the SEC stated in its order. Approximately 1,882 clients held the ETP for extended periods that led to meaningful losses for investors.
“Advisory firms must protect clients from inappropriate investments in complex financial products,” Daniel Michael, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Complex Financial Instruments Unit, said in a press release. “We will continue to scrutinize firms’ policies and procedures related to these risky products, and we will take action when they are inadequate.”
UBS is the sixth company in the last nine months to settle with the SEC regarding ETP failures as part of a crackdown carried out by the agency’s Enforcement Division.
Remedial measures: The SEC stated it positively considered the fact UBS undertook a voluntary review that led to the ineligibility of the ETP in question in January 2018—before the agency contacted the firm regarding the matter.
“After fully cooperating with the SEC, UBS is pleased to have resolved this matter,” the company said in a statement.