SEC tells two Wall Street bond traders this isn’t Monopoly

Accused of Free Parking

Unlike Monopoly, two bond traders found out this week that there is no free parking on Wall Street.

Two Wall Street traders’ “parking” scheme was put to an end and they're now charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for temporarily placing securities in the other’s trading book, to avoid penalties that would affect a year-end bonus.

According to the SEC report, Thomas Gonnella solicited the assistance of Ryan King to evade a policy at his firm that penalizes traders financially if they hold securities for too long.

The two worked at separate firms and would arrange to purchase several securities with the understanding that Gonnella would repurchase them at a profit from Bayview Commercial Asset Trust, King’s firm.

As a result, it would reset the holding period when Gonnella repurchased the securities, avoiding incurring any charges to his trading profits and ultimately his bonus for having aged inventory.

The round-trip trades caused Gonnella’s firm to lose approximately $174,000, leading to both Gonnella and King eventually being fired by their firms for the misconduct.

“Gonnella conducted trades for the purpose of avoiding his firm’s aged-inventory policy and protecting his own bonus,” said Andrew Calamari, director of the SEC’s New York regional office. 

“Even though Gonnella misled his employer and resorted to text messages on his cell phone to avoid detection, his tricks failed and we are holding him accountable for these deceptive trades,” Calamari added. 

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