Morgan Stanley fined $15million over e-mail records

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has fined Morgan Stanley $15 million for failing to retain emails, as management and production of electronic records continues to be a central point in regulators' determination of co-operation from entities under investigation for securities law violations.

The fine is the largest SEC has slapped on a firm for failing to preserve electronic records. Analysts say regulators' intensifying focus on records retention will get securities brokers and corporate issuers in compliance with records retention regulations. Financial services firms face a growing number of regulations to retain and produce electronic records at short notice, such as the SEC Rule 17a-3 /17a-4, NYSE rule 342/440, and NASD Conduct Rule 3010 /3110.

In a filing with regulators, the New York brokerage firm said it had reached an agreement in principle with the SEC to settle the SEC investigation relating to the firm's inability to produce email on request. The recommended settlement requires approval of the Commission. The firm said it was in discussions to settle related charges with the NASD but has yet to reach an agreement. Last May, a judge ordered Morgan Stanley to pay billionaire financier Ronald Perelman $1.57 billion over a lawsuit that, in the end, focused on the firm's inability to produce documents.

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