Zhitong Finance APP has learned that, according to two sources familiar with the situation, Morgan Stanley (MS.US) has imposed fines on those employees who illegally use WhatsApp and other information platforms to handle company business.
Penalties range from a few thousand dollars to more than $1 million. Those amounts were determined by factors such as the number of messages sent, seniority and whether the employee had already been warned, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Morgan Stanley previously agreed in 2021 to pay the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) $200 million to resolve an investigation into employee communications on messaging platforms not approved by the company.
FINRA, Wall Street’s self-regulatory organization, requires brokerages to keep records of all business-related communications. The SEC has been investigating whether lenders tracked employees’ digital communications.
Last September, the SEC fined 16 financial firms, including the world‘s major banks, a combined $1.8 billion for employees discussing trades and buying and selling on personal devices and apps. The investigation has since expanded beyond brokerages to include investment funds and advisors, four people familiar with the investigation said, according to reports in October.
Some of the fined banks have told employees that future wages and bonuses will be withheld if they are found to have used unauthorized communication channels, a person familiar with the situation said.
Financial firms are also conducting widespread searches of employees’ mobile phones and PCs to show regulators that they are punishing communications policy violations, the source said. In 2020, two senior Morgan Stanley executives left after unauthorized use of WhatsApp to discuss work matters.