Bank giants slapped with big fines for WhatsApp usage

bank whatsapp
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) – Banking giants such as JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America collectively face more than $1 billion in regulatory fines for employees’ use of unapproved messaging tools, including email and apps like WhatsApp.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began probing banks’ record-keeping practices relating to the use of personal devices last year, Reuters reported at the time, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is also scrutinizing the issue, bank disclosures show.

Here is a list of fines that financial firms have already paid or expect to pay, according to recent disclosures:

JP Morgan Chase & Co

JP Morgan Chase & Co’s broker-dealer subsidiary was fined $200 million last year by the SEC and CFTC for widespread failures to preserve staff communications on personal mobile devices, messaging apps and emails. JP Morgan acknowledged its conduct violated securities laws. The penalty was one of the first major enforcement actions brought under SEC Chair Gary Gensler.

Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley has tentatively agreed to pay $125 million to the SEC and $75 million to the CFTC to resolve investigations into its record-keeping practices, it said in July. It already set aside $200 million in its second quarter earnings to prepare for the penalty.

Bank of America

Bank of America earmarked about $200 million in the second quarter for litigation tied to unauthorized electronic messaging by its employees. The bank said in late July that it was in settlement talks with the SEC and the CFTC.


Citi is being investigated by the SEC for communication over unapproved channels used by its employees, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing in February. The company set aside reserves to deal with the matter, Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason said during its second quarter earnings in July. He didn’t specify an amount, but said it was aligned with what peer companies had disclosed.

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs is in “advanced discussions” with the SEC and CFTC to resolve the probes, it said in a second-quarter filing.


British bank Barclays said it had reached an agreement in principle to pay $200 million to US regulators, the company said in its half-year earnings in July.

Credit Suisse Group

Credit Suisse said in July it had booked a $200 million litigation provision mainly relating to the record-keeping rules.

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank announced late July that it set aside 165 million euros in additional provisions for possible regulatory enforcement, in part from the SEC and CFTC investigations.

UBS Group

UBS Group said US regulators were conducting investigations into the bank and other financial institutions relating to business communications.

(By Angelique Chen; Reporting by Angelique Chen; Editing by Lananh Nguyen and Sam Holmes)

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