FINRA fines HSBC $1.5 Million

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined units of HSBC Holdings PLC in a settlement of cases related to the sale of auction-rate securities that became illiquid when auctions froze in February 2008. HSBC neither admitted or denied the charges, but consented to Finra’s findings under the settlement.

HSBC was fined $1.5 million and has repurchased more than $562 million of the securities that were held by its customers. As part of the settlement, HSBC agreed to offer to repurchase auction-rate securities from some customers that transferred accounts before the earlier buybacks or chose not to participate.

FINRA accused HSBC of not providing adequate information about the liquidity risks of the securities. In addition, Finra said HSBC sold certain unregistered securities to customers who weren’t qualified to own them.