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Banks Face Possible E-Mail Fines

Securities Officials Say Investment Firms May Be Fined A Total of $10M For Not Retaining E-Mails

Aug 2, 2002 | CNN/Money Securities regulators have notified six of Wall Street's largest investment banking firms that they may be fined a total of $10 million for not keeping e-mail messages as required, according to published reports Friday.

At a Tuesday meeting, officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission, National Association of Securities Dealers, and the New York Stock Exchange notified the banks that their enforcement staffs recommended that the companies be fined $1.67 million each for not complying with current e-mail retention policies, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Current regulations require companies to keep e-mails for three years. The first two years must be in an easily accessible location, according to the paper.

The regulators are focusing on Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney unit, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, the Journal reported.

Merrill Lynch, Salomon Smith Barney, the New York Stock Exchange, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the report when contacted by CNNfn.

However, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman added that "we are certainly supportive of efforts to developed uniform and clear cut standards around e-mails and have been involved in long standing efforts with the industry and regulators to develop those standards."

E-mails have become important pieces of documentation at securities firms. In April, Merrill Lynch settled a conflict of interest case with the New York Attorney General for $100 million. The case was supported by Merrill e-mails that internally derided stocks that analysts were recommending to investors outside the firm.

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