FINRA fines Southwest, expels Cutler Securities for naked short selling
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined a Dallas-based financial advisory firm and barred a Florida investor for naked short selling. Southwest Securities agreed to pay $650,000 to FINRA for deficiencies in its due diligence, risk assessment and supervisory procedures after FINRA found one of the company's correspondent firms improperly shorted a stock. Southwest Securities is broker-dealer unit of SWS Group (SWS). FINRA also expelled Cutler Securities from FINRA and barred the Florida firm's president, Glenn Cutler, for violating a rule stipulating short sale orders be designated as such. The regulator said Cutler was aware of the rule, but around July 2007 he "stopped marking his sell short orders as short and instead entered all his sell short orders as long sale orders." Then in August 2009, Cutler Securities purchased 17.8 million shares of a stock and sold 20.3 million shares of the same stock. Southwest allowed the trades, despite receiving alerts, according to FINRA. Cutler wasn't able to meet the margin call on the 2.5 million share balance, leaving Southwest Securities with a $6.3 million debt, the regulator said. "Southwest's systemic failures in overseeing its clearing services led to considerable financial losses for itself, and illustrates the risks that can be created by correspondent firms," FINRA Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement Brad Bennett said. "Southwest's failure to effectively monitor Cutler's reckless behavior jeopardized its ability to meet its obligations to its other correspondent firms and counterparties." FINRA said Cutler Securities had its own "significant regulatory and supervisory deficiencies relating to its short sales, including a history of failing to comply" with regulations and emergency orders from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Neither Southwest Securities nor Cutler admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to FINRA's findings as per the settlement agreement. FINRA is an independent regulatory body comprised of members that oversee each other. Write to Jason Philyaw.