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(Bloomberg) -- U.S. regulators ordered UBS AG to pay more than $14 million in penalties for a series of rule violations from 2008 to 2012 at its internal venue for trading stocks.
UBS was cited by the Securities and Exchange Commission for letting users of its dark pool submit orders at prices denominated in increments smaller than a penny, something SEC rules prohibit because it can be used to get a better place in line when buying or selling stock. The SEC blamed both “technical problems” and two order types that effectively allowed such increments to be used.
One of the orders, a “PrimaryPegPlus,” let users enter orders based on a percentage above or below prevailing market prices. “Because the second component of the formula determining the price of a PPP order -- a subscriber-determined percentage of the spread –- nearly always yielded a sub-penny amount, PPP orders were nearly always priced in illegal, sub- penny increments,” according to the SEC order.
The other, known as “Whole Penny Offset,” let users enter orders one penny above or below the midpoint between the national best bid or offer for a given stock.
“The order type yielded orders priced in impermissible sub-penny increments whenever the price of the order was pegged to the midpoint and the spread between the national best bid and national best offer was an odd number of cents, e.g., if the national best bid and offer were $30.00 and $30.03, the midpoint would be $30.015 and orders plus and minus the one-cent offset would be illegally priced at $30.005 and $30.025 per share,” the SEC said.
“UBS is pleased to resolve charges by the SEC arising from historical shortcomings in the operation of its ATS,” UBS said in a statement. “The issues that led to these charges were remedied in mid-2012, and the firm has updated and enhanced its supervisory and operational procedures.”
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